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How to avoid foodborne illness during the holiday season

Claudio Schwarz

Every year, approximately one in six Americans get sick with a foodborne illness, according to the CDC. So before you gobble gobble, there are a few things you can do to practice food safety during the holidays.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends washing your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and using separate cutting boards to keep raw meats away from fruits and vegetables.

Make sure to check the internal temperature of your turkey and ham, which should be 165 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The Safe Minimum Cooking Chart provides recommended internal temperatures for other meats if a traditional turkey and ham isn't your style.

Put your leftovers in the fridge as soon as possible, as harmful germs can quickly multiply when foods are left out. If anyone has been sick, they shouldn’t prepare food for at least 24 hours after symptoms have stopped.

The State Department of Health says to be extra careful with your turkeys, which should be allowed enough time to thaw and consumed within three to four days, along with other leftovers.

Symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you start experiencing these symptoms, the CDC recommends calling your health care provider to see if you need to be tested for foodborne illness.

For more details on food safety, head to the State Department of Health's website.

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Jillian Taylor has been StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter since August 2023.
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