Food Safety Tips for Preparing a Memorable Holiday Meal

A mother and daughter taking a turkey out of the over

This is a great time of year to enjoy meals with people in your household, while keeping food safety on the holiday menu.

Washing or rinsing turkey and other poultry before cooking may be a common practice or appear in older recipes, but it can spread germs in the kitchen that contaminate other food, utensils, and countertops. A 2020 CDC survey conducted through a Porter Novelli Consumer Styles Surveyexternal icon found that 78.42% of respondents said they washed or rinsed their turkey before cooking. Although CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advise against washing poultry, USDA offers suggestions for keeping your kitchen and food safe if you do choose to wash turkey or chickenexternal icon.

Remember to cook poultry to an internal temperatureexternal icon of 165°F to make sure it’s safe to eat. Use a thermometer to check.

Follow these other tips when preparing turkey, chicken, and other poultry this holiday season and year-round:

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling turkey and other poultry.
  • Use a separate cutting board.
  • Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surface that previously held the raw turkey or poultry.
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing and before you prepare the next item.
  • Refrigerate leftovers at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and within 2 hours of preparation to prevent food poisoning. Slice or divide big cuts of meat, such as a roast turkey, into small quantities for refrigeration so they can cool quickly. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving.

For more tips on preparing a memorable holiday feast, visit:

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Release of 2018 Annual Report on the Sources of Foodborne Illness

The Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration’s (IFSAC) newest report pdf icon[PDF – 15 pages], “Foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2018 for Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter using multi-year outbreak surveillance data, United States” is now available. The updated estimates, combined with other data, may help shape agency priorities and inform the creation of targeted interventions that may help reduce foodborne illnesses caused by these pathogens. These estimates are intended to inform and engage stakeholders and to improve federal agencies’ abilities to assess whether prevention measures are working. The methods used in this and prior annual reports are detailed in a peer reviewed article in the January 2021 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases. IFSAC is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

2018 NARMS Integrated Summary

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) program helps protect public health and food safety by providing information on trends in antimicrobial resistance in the food chain. The recently published 2018 NARMS Integrated Summaryexternal icon combines antimicrobial resistance data in select bacteria isolated from people (by CDC), raw retail meats (by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), and animals at slaughter (by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service). The 2018 update includes testing data on additional antimicrobials and an expanded number of retail meat collection sites since the last report. The new report can also be viewed in an interactive formatexternal icon using whole genome sequencing data.