The University of Missouri Extension is encouraging Missourians to celebrate Thanksgiving while minimizing the risk of illness. Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Nutrition and Health Education Specialist Tammy Roberts:

Tammy Roberts

Press Release from the University of Missouri Extension

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States every year. More foodborne illness is reported during the summer months but with family buffet dinners and other holiday gatherings, the potential is always there. By practicing safe food handling, storage and holding, you can prevent unnecessary illness of your loved ones.

“Leaving food out for ‘grazing’ increases the risk for illness” said Tammy Roberts from Bates County University of Missouri Extension. The old saying of keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold holds true for the holiday season. When food is stored below 140 degrees and above 40 degrees, the potential for bacteria growth exists so be sure to put it away before it has been out for more than two hours. Bacteria grow best on protein-containing foods such as meat, eggs, milk, fish and poultry.
The safest way to handle leftover turkey is to remove the meat from the bone and place it in shallow containers in the refrigerator. Shallow containers allow the food to cool quickly and minimize the bacterial growth..

“Eggnog is a tradition for many families during the holidays but if made with raw eggs, it can harbor salmonella” Tammy reminds. There is a way to prepare eggnog with raw eggs safely. The Egg Handling and Care Guide from the American Egg Board recommends to stir together the eggs and either sugar, water or other liquid from the recipe (at least ¼ cup sugar, liquid or a combination per egg) in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat stirring constantly until the egg mixture coats a metal spoon with a thin film or reaches 160 degrees. Immediately place the pan in ice water and stir until cool and then proceed with your recipe.

“Children love to eat raw cookie dough but keep in mind that children are one of the most vulnerable populations to food borne illness” said Tammy. Raw eggs in the cookie dough can harbor salmonella and cause illness. Fortunately, salmonella is destroyed during the cooking process.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that you cannot smell or taste the bacteria that causes food poisoning. The best way to assure your family won’t be impacted by foodborne illness this holiday season is to handle food with care at your holiday gathering.