How to keep salmonella off your dinner plate this Thanksgiving

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Many of us will be surrounded by loved ones around the table this Thanksgiving day, with the turkey being front and center.

With the recent salmonella outbreak in raw Jennie-O turkey meat, experts say making sure your turkey is properly cooked is more critical than ever. The Center for Disease Control is reporting 164 people have been sickened in 35 states so far with salmonella.

63 people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported in California.

Experts say it all starts by thawing your turkey properly. Hopefully your turkey has been in the fridge for a couple of days thawing out, but if your turkey is still in the freezer experts say you’ll want to use the cold-water method.

All you have to do is fill a pot up with cold water and bathe the turkey in the water. The turkey will thaw at a rate of 2 lbs per hour, and you’ll want to change the water out every half hour.

It’s important to make sure the water temperature is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is considered the “danger zone” where E.coli or salmonella are more likely to grow.

“What you want to make sure of, especially this holiday season, is to not cross contaminate anything so if it does contain that salmonella, keep your hands really clean wash it with warm soapy water, make sure you don’t get any of that turkey juice on the vegetables and you should be ok,” Chef Ashley Hutto, EdVenture Nutrition Lab Coordinator said, “Just cook it up to 165 degrees and that’s going to kill off anything that’s going to be existing in that turkey and you should be just fine.”

Experts say the best way of checking to see if the turkey is fully cooked is by sticking a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, leg and breast to make sure it’s at 165 degrees.

Salmonella can spread from one person to another so make sure to wash your hands before and after you touch raw turkey and avoid any cross contamination.

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