Don’t give dinner guests the gift of foodborne illness

The holidays are upon us, and public health officials are offering tips to prevent foodborne illness at holiday feasts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about one in six Americans gets sick each year from foodborne diseases. Of those, about 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

To keep your guests illness-free, Clark County Public Health offers these food-safety tips:

-Cook fresh turkey within two days of purchase.

-If your turkey is frozen, never thaw it on the counter. Instead, thaw it in the refrigerator (allow 24 hours of thawing for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey), in a bowl or sink filled with cold water (allow 30 minutes per pound) or in the microwave.

-Wash hands and surfaces often.

-After working with raw turkey, wash hands, utensils and work surfaces to prevent bacteria from contaminating other foods.

-If you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before roasting and use a thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees.

-Prior to cooking the turkey, be sure it’s completely thawed.

-Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the turkey at the wing joint and meaty portions of the breast and thigh. The safe minimum internal temperature is 165 degrees.

-Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Don’t leave them on the counter to cool.

-Eat refrigerator turkey leftovers within three or four days.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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