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Holiday food safety tips provided

NEWARK – The Licking County Health Department reminds residents to follow proper food safety practices when preparing holiday feasts this season.

“The memory from this year’s holiday dinner should not be how everyone had to recover from foodborne illness,” said Joe Ebel, Licking County Health Commissioner. “These illnesses can be dangerous, and simple food safety practices can reduce the likelihood of friends and family getting sick.”

The Health Department recommends following these five food-safety tips for the holiday season to reduce the risk for foodborne illness:

• Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. If someone forgets to take the turkey out of the freezer, it can be thawed by placing it under cold running water. However, it should not be thawed on a countertop.

• Be sure to cook turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit; this includes the stuffing as well. A meat thermometer should be used to check the temperature. The pop-up thermometer contained in the turkey should only be used as a guide for the internal temperature.

• All raw food items should be separated from cooked food in order to prevent cross-contamination.

• Any leftovers should be put into small portions and placed in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking. All leftovers should be reheated to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before being eaten.

• Most importantly, anyone preparing food should wash their hands often.

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