10 Tips for Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner Safely

Help keep your loved ones and friends out of harm’s way by taking the following simple precautions for cooking Thanksgiving dinner safely.

Tip 1: Remove distractions

Remove pets and restrain small children from running loose in the kitchen underfoot while you prepare the family feast for you and your guests.

Tip 2: Clear kitchen

Clear the kitchen of any dishes or utensils that have been left on top of a kitchen counter. You don’t need those items sitting out collecting germs and possible food particles from raw meats or other foods being handled.

Tip 3: Clean kitchen

Clean and dry counter top surfaces and floors in the kitchen thoroughly with a safe but strong cleanser before cooking day.

Tip 4: Prepare foods in advance

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner safely is best accomplished by limiting how much you have to do in the kitchen on that day. You can prepare salads, some vegetable dishes and desserts in advance.

For vegetables that have to cook the day of the event, you can still wash and cut up in advance of the meal time, so they are less likely to become contaminated by meats being prepared.

Tip 5: Maintain safe meat temperatures

Store meat at temperatures less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit in your refrigerator before use, and then cook it a temperature that will kill bacteria (over 140 degrees). FoodSafety.gov also recommends cooked food be maintained at 140 degrees Fahrenheit while sitting out, otherwise bacteria can multiply faster on it, even though it has been cooked.

Tip 7: Don’t wash meat before cooking

Rinsing meats in the kitchen sink spreads potential bacteria and doesn’t sanitize the meat. Cooking it at the appropriate temperature, although unwashed, will kill the bacteria. Clean kitchen areas that come into contact with uncooked meat or meat wrappings to prevent cross contamination.

Tip 8: Use separate serving utensils

Provide separate serving utensils for each dish served. Don’t use one serving utensil for meat and other dishes.

Tip 9: Be prepared for emergencies

A first-aid kit with bandages and ointments for burns or cuts should be kept on hand in the home (and near the kitchen) during holiday cooking.

Tip 10: Practice fire safety

Have a fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen in the event of a fire. There may not be time for a fire truck to make it to your home in time to extinguish the fire otherwise.

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