The Central Connecticut Health District (CCHD) is advising residents that there is a rumored Turkey recall circulating around the internet.  The rumor consists of fabricated quotations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding turkeys being infected with the Avian Flu and Ebola.  Upon researching these allegations, the Central Connecticut Health District is confirming that these claims are not true.  To date, there have been no issued recalls by the CDC or the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

CCHD would like to advise residents to take precaution when preparing holiday meals to prevent foodborne illness.  Preventing food-borne illness can be as simple as following four basic steps:  clean, separate, cook, and chill.

The first step refers to practicing good hygiene, as being clean is extremely important in preventing food-borne illness.  Personal cleanliness is also a must for food safety.  Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds in hot, soapy water before, during, and after food preparation.  This is especially important after preparing meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood; after using the bathroom or changing diapers; and after handling pets.  Do not handle or prepare food if you are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

Different clean plates, pans, boards, and utensils should be used for raw and cooked meats.  Also, cooked foods should never be placed on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood.

Adequate cooking temperatures are necessary to avoid food poisoning.  Many families serve traditional turkey or poultry, while many families opt for less traditional meats, such as ham, pork, beef, and wild game.  Roasting is the recommended method for cooking most meats, slow roasting on a rack in a shallow pan at a moderate temperature of 325F.  When foods are cooked at lower temperatures, they may not get warm enough to get out of the danger zone (between 40 and 140 F.), so bacteria may multiply rapidly and are not killed.

Use a food thermometer to be sure the meat is sufficiently cooked as follows:  lean beef - 145 F.; pork - between 160 and 170 F.; fully cooked ham reheated to 140 F. while uncooked hams need to reach 160 F  Turkey and poultry need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 F.  If the meat is frozen, remember to thaw it in the refrigerator or submerge it in a deep sink of cold water (in its original wrapper), changing the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. 

Stuffing should be prepared just before cooking.  However, using a cold stuffing can make it more difficult for the turkey to reach the safe internal temperature of 165 F.  Stuff the turkey loosely to allow even cooking and only stuff with ¾ cup per pound of turkey.

Once the meal has been safely prepared and served, the final step in ensuring food safety is to chill. When the meal is over, be sure to wrap and store the left-over food in the refrigerator right away.  Divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in order to encourage rapid, even cooling.

When it’s time to eat those leftovers, keep in mind that stuffing and gravy can be refrigerated safely for 2 days and cooked turkey and vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 days.  Always remember to reheat meat to 165 F.  If food is not refrigerated within the safe time limits, it should be discarded.  WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

For more information about this or any other public health issue, please contact the Central Connecticut Health District by calling (860) 721-2822 or “Like” us on Facebook.   Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!