Health officials offer holiday food-safety tips

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Clark County Public Health officials are asking people to keep food safety in mind while preparing holiday meals.

Health officials encourage people to follow these food safety strategies to help keep holiday occasions free of foodborne illness:

  • Wash hands and food-contact surfaces (cutting boards) often. Bacteria can spread through the kitchen and onto cutting boards, knives, sponges and counter tops. Also, use only clean kitchen cloths and towels and wash them promptly after wiping up meat juices.

  • Don’t cross contaminate. Don’t let bacteria spread from one food, especially raw meat, poultry and seafood, to another. Keep meats and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods and don’t store them above vegetables in the refrigerator.

  • Foods are properly cooked when they are heated long enough and at a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a thermometer to make sure meat is thoroughly cooked to these temperatures: 165 degrees (whole chicken or turkey, stuffing, casseroles and ground poultry dishes), 160 degrees (ground meat dishes) and 145 degrees (steaks, roasts and chops).

  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Don’t leave food on the counter to cool.

  • A fresh turkey (or any fresh poultry) should be cooked within two days of purchase.

  • When thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours of thawing for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. When thawing in a bowl or sink filled with cold water, keep the turkey in its original wrapping and allow 30 minutes per pound. Change water frequently.

  • Refrigerated turkey leftovers should be used within three or four days.