Before you start cooking the biggest meal of the year, check the latest food recalls and come up with a plan for safe food preparation. With good planning, you can minimize the risk of food poisoning at your Thanksgiving table.
Food Recalls: Romaine Lettuce
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning consumers to stay away from romaine lettuce contaminated by E. coli. This isn’t the first warning. This follows several romaine lettuce recalls in recent years – including last Thanksgiving (Source: Washington Post).
The current recall is for lettuce contaminated by an E.coli outbreak in Salinas, California. The CDC reports 40 people in 16 states have become ill due to the contamination. The CDC is urging consumers to throw all lettuce with labels which say it originated in Salinas. If you can’t find the growing area, consumers are advised not to eat the lettuce.
From Boston and across Massachusetts, many restaurants have posted advisories that they are not serving romaine lettuce.
Food Recalls: Raw Pork
Federal officials received an anonymous tip that Morris Meat Packaging of Illinois was producing food without federal safety inspection and on Saturdays, outside inspection hours. As a result, the company recalled 515,000 pounds of raw, intact pork products on Nov. 21, 2019. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is calling on consumers to look for EST. 18267 inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Food Recalls: Cheese Nips
Careful before you pick up that Cheese Nip. The parent company of Cheese Nips has issued a voluntary recall because yellow plastic pieces were found on manufacturing equipment. The source was a food scraper and the crackers were recalled to protect consumers from potential food poisoning. Consumers should look for – and not consume – 11-ounce Cheese Nips boxes with a best by date in May 2020. No injuries have been reported in connection to this recall.
Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning in Your Kitchen
Take care to use safe food handling practices when preparing your Thanksgiving meal.
Thaw your turkey in a container in the refrigerator; or in a sealed plastic bag in a sink of cold water (change water every 30 minutes) or in the microwave. Look up and follow instructions from the microwave manufacturer.
Clean, separate, cook and chill. Follow the four steps of food safety to prevent raw turkey from making contact with harmful bacteria. When you wash your hands, remember that germs that cause food poisoning can spread easily in your kitchen. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing and before eating.
Cook stuffing separately from the turkey, thoroughly to 165°F. Only then can the stuffing be cooked inside a turkey. This is a critical and fundamental step because bacteria can form and food poisoning can happen when stuffing is not completely cooked.
Give yourself adequate time to cook the turkey so your guests can safely consume it. The amount of time you need will depend on the weight and size of your turkey. The goal is to reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Check by inserting a food thermometer in multiple parts of the turkey, including in the center of the stuffing and the thickest parts of the breast, thigh and wing joint.
After your Thanksgiving meal, remember to refrigerate leftovers soon (within 2 hours at the most is the CDC recommendation) to prevent food poisoning.
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