December 13, 1999
Turkey tips for the holidays
ARLINGTON, VA--Before our holiday turkeys get to the supermarket, the USDA requires that all poultry receive a disinfecting bath and processing materials be cleaned with a chlorine solution. It's an important defense in fighting dangerous Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria--unwanted guests at any holiday meal.
"Chlorine is one of the most effective weapons against the bacteria that cause most food-borne illnesses," said C.T. "Kip" Howlett, Jr., executive director of the Chlorine Chemistry Council.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria and other harmful microorganisms affect millions of people every year. Although the food industry does a lot to ensure product safety, infectious germs can spread quickly if food is not prepared and stored safely after purchase. Proper handling and storage helps prevent foodborne illness that may produce mildly uncomfortable to deadly symptoms.
Here are some tips that can help families enjoy happy and healthy meals during the holidays and all year long:
"If consumers prepare and handle their food safely, 85 percent of all food illnesses could be avoided," said Sylvia Rowe, of the International Food Information Council Foundation. More information is available at www.c3.org.
- Wash hands before preparing food and between handling raw meat, poultry, or fish, and other foods, utensils, or dishes.
- Wash fruits and vegetables--including pre-packaged salads and melons--under cool running water. Refrigerate cut produce promptly.
- Don't eat anything containing uncooked or unpasteurized eggs, such as raw cookie dough or eggnog, to avoid the risk of Salmonella.
- Thoroughly cook meat and poultry to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria present.
- Refrigerate leftover meat and other perishables within two hours after cooking and serving.
- Wash all food contact surfaces (e.g., cutting boards, knives, and other utensils) with soap and hot water after each use.
- Sanitize cutting boards, countertops, and cooking surfaces with a solution of 1-3 tablespoons liquid household chlorine bleach (plain, unscented) per gallon of water. Let stand two minutes, rinse and air dry.
- Soak sponges, dish cloths, and towels in a stronger solution of three-fourths of a cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Soak for two minutes, rinse and air dry.