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updated: 11/18/2013 11:29 AM

Foodborne Illness: An Unwanted Thanksgiving Guest

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Jordan Green

DUPAGE COUNTY-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 1 in 6 Americans will get some kind of foodborne illness this year and one of the highest risk times is this time of year: Thanksgiving.

The DuPage County Health Department urges residents to learn how to prevent foodborne illness and avoid sending their guests home with anything but leftovers. The improper thawing, storing, cooking and servings of turkey and other dishes can lead to harmful bacteria like salmonella that is sure to ruin even the best tasting Thanksgiving feast. Keep in the mind the following five tips for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.

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1) Thaw Your Turkey Correctly. Many Americans thaw their turkeys in the sink but this can cause uneven thawing and cause harmful bacteria to grow. Instead, Thaw your bird in the refrigerator or in cold water that you change every 30 minutes.

2) Common Sense with Cutting Boards. Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce. Raw poultry or juice from the turkey can contaminate your cutting board and contaminate other foods.

3) Gravy. Gravy should be brought to a boil before serving and again when reheating for leftovers. Gravy that does not reach a certain temperature or cools back down to a certain temperature can grow harmful bacteria that will make you and your guests sick.

4) Leftovers. Thanksgiving foods should not be left out for more than 2 hours, after that they should be put in the fridge. Your gravy should stay good for 1-2 days ad your turkey and stuffing can be snacked on for the next 3-4 without causing you harm. After that, it needs to be tossed.

5) Wash Your Hands. As always, regular hand washing can stop the spread of disease and prevent illness. Hand washing is especially important while cooking and handling raw foods.

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.

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