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The most important thing about Thanksgiving is taking the time to count our blessings. My family always takes the time to do just that, thinking back over the past year, being thankful for the good times and where we’ve come through the bad.

Having said that, Thanksgiving is a great holiday for a few reasons.  There’s a day off from work (Thanks to all in the medical field and public protection who work holidays! And, mercy blessings to you who are required to work retail on holidays!) in the middle of the week.  It’s always on the same day of the week, the fourth Thursday in November, so it’s easy to plan for.

The Food

And, then there’s the food!  What holiday celebrates food more than Thanksgiving?  Whatever style of food you enjoy–traditional, gourmet, elegant, casual, or a mixture of styles–it’s a time to splurge!  For this day, you can justify eating a little more and a little worse than normal.  It’s a holiday, right?! 🙂

It’s also a time to be aware of food safety.  Many times people are cooking large meals, which take a while to get everything done.  This means planning to make sure that the hot food stays hot enough (at least 140 degrees F) until meal time so bacteria don’t grow.

There are also people preparing dishes at home and taking a dish pot-luck style to a gathering.  These foods should be kept cold (less than 41 degrees F) or hot during transit and until serving.

Leftovers, which are also plentiful after a Thanksgiving meal can also be a challenge.  Most times a large group of people have gathered that haven’t seen each other in a while, maybe all year.  Everyone wants to chat, catch up, watch football, play games, etc.  If you don’t take time to put the leftovers in the fridge, they can sit out too long at room temperature and allow dangerous bacteria to grow.  After the gathering, there is then the challenge of transporting leftovers home, keeping them cold on a long drive.

Turkey

So many people cook and serve turkey for their Thanksgiving meal.  Food safety should be kept in mind when preparing and cooking turkey and keeping and reheating leftovers.  There are some helpful turkey food safety guidelines at Foodsafety.gov, along with this informative “Let’s Talk Turkey” infographic.

Some key takeaways:  USDA Turkey food safety

  • 3 ways to thaw a frozen turkey (refrigerator, cold water, microwave).
  • Do not wash a raw turkey. You can’t wash off bacteria, but you can spread it around your kitchen.
  • How to stuff a turkey (and cook it properly).
  • How to cook a turkey and properly check for doneness.
  • How to handle leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FoodNetwork.com also has some great safety tips concerning Thanksgiving leftovers.  The article gives good advice on how to and how long to store leftovers, as well as freezing and reheating tips.

Prepare

When you are looking up recipes and buying ingredients for your holiday meal, please plan ahead for food safety too.

  • Clean out the fridge ahead of time to make room for cold ingredients, prepared dishes, and leftovers.
  • Gather some containers and/or zip bags for portioning and putting away the leftovers.
  • Take a cooler in the car if you will be traveling with food.  It will keep the hot food hot on the way; add some ice to keep the leftovers cold on the way home.
  • Take the time to put the leftovers away in the refrigerator before continuing your visiting with family and friends.

Be Food Safe

You’ll probably see several other articles and public safety announcements leading up to Thanksgiving Day.  And, that’s a good thing.  We need to keep food safety at top of mind, especially during big meals with lots of food and people.  Nobody wants their blessed time with family and friends to end with sickness.

Be thankful!  Be safe!