Holiday food safety ahead of possible power outages

Local News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Heavy winds are expected in the region Wednesday, which could possibly knock out power for some during the Thanksgiving holiday. People look forward to a day filled with full stomachs and happy hearts, but it’s also important to remember to keep families healthy during the holiday.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, throw it out”, says Kanawha Charleston Health Department Chief Sanitarian Stanley Mills.

The Kanawha Charleston Health Department says if your power goes out, it’s important to worry about what’s in the fridge first. Their biggest piece of advice: don’t open the refrigerator doors unless you have to.

As for the green bean casserole, pumpkin pies, and other already prepared food; there is a limited amount of time to dig in.

“It depends on the stage of the meal. If the meal is prepared and they’re eating they have 4 hours to do something with that”, says Mills.

Additionally, any improper handling and undercooking poultry can lead to foodborne disease outbreaks. Here are some tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure your turkeys are ready to go:

  1. Thaw turkeys safely. Thaw turkeys in a container in the refrigerator, in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes) or in a microwave, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Never thaw a turkey by leaving it out on the counter. 
  2. Handle the turkey correctly. Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Be sure to clean hands and surfaces often, keep raw turkeys away from ready to eat foods to avoid cross-contamination and keep raw turkey away from other foods in the fridge.  
  3. Cook stuffing thoroughly.  If you cook stuffing in the turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking. Use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center reaches 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may then cause food poisoning. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, wait 20 minutes after taking the bird out of the oven before removing the stuffing; this allows it to cook a little more.
  4. Cook turkeys thoroughly. Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F. Place the completely thawed turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Cooking time will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should still use a food thermometer to check that it is safely cooked. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

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