Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

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From turkeys to side dishes, food is in the spotlight during Thanksgiving. But, there are a lot of food safety concerns to keep in mind before you enter the kitchen.

People need to be especially careful when it comes to dealing with raw turkey meat. It is easy for those germs to get everywhere.

The Michigan State University Extension says one of the biggest safety concerns is that contaminated food or food that has gone bad.

To stay healthy and safe this Thanksgiving, use paper towels. Using paper towels helps prevent cross contamination of germs.

Using cloth towels to dry your hands, clean the counter top and more can spread germs. Using one paper towel to dry your hands, for example, then throwing it away, stops the spread of germs.

Also, use a bleach and water mixture to clean your counters. That's your best bet to keep your cooking area clean. Use one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water to create the cleaning solution.

Another tip: if you are defrosting your turkey in the sink, make sure to drain and refill the sink will cold water every 30 minutes. Make sure your turkey is tightly wrapped in its packaging to prevent the spread of germs.

Want to keep your food fresh? Put it in the refrigerator or freezer two hours after it is finished cooking.

"Think about that time that has passed as you have served your meal," says MSU Extension Educator Joyce McGarry. "Make sure that your leftovers go quickly into smaller containers into and into your refrigerator or your freezer. If you think you won't be eating the leftovers in two to three days, freeze them."

That two hours applies to when the food is finished cooking, not when it is put on the table. Finally, before you get in the kitchen, make sure your food thermometers are working.

For more tips, contact your county Extension office.

By Stefanie Pohl