The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) reminds all at-home chefs to make sure their turkey is cooked all the way through following the 2017 salmonella outbreak — linked to raw turkey and chicken — that saw more than 25 cases in B.C.
Marsha Taylor, epidemiologist with BCCDC, says not properly cooking poultry increases the risk of illness for those who handle or eat it.
“Salmonellosis is serious and it can ruin any Thanksgiving dinner, so remember to fully cook your turkey dinner and use a meat thermometer to ensure it is safe to eat,” she said in a statement.
Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74 C or hotter to prevent sickness caused by salmonella, a type of bacteria often found in poultry products, including chickens, eggs and turkey. It’s recommenced chefs use a probe-tip food thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature by inserting it into the breast or inner thigh.
According to Lorraine McIntyre, a food safety specialist with BCCDC, it’s important to remember raw juices from poultry can easily spread to surfaces from the sink if the meat is rinsed, adding that instead of rinsing, pat the turkey dry with paper towels and then discard them into the compost to prevent cross contamination.
Salmonellosis causes symptoms including diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, usually lasting for four to seven hours.
To avoid getting sick, make sure you wash your hands and cooking surface with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food. Keep raw meat separated from other foods and stored in the bottom of your refrigerator until it’s time to use. Ensure raw meat juices don’t drip onto other foods and thaw poultry in the fridge or in cold water prior to cooking.
After the meal is over, put leftovers into the refrigerator within two hours. Food should not be left out longer than four hours, otherwise spore forming bacteria may regrow and release toxins into the food. Eat your leftovers within two to three days or freeze them for later use.
For more information on avoiding salmonellosis visit bccdc.ca.