NM Poison Center Offers Food Poisoning Prevention

As family and friends gather to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to remember food poisoning safety tips. There are many different types of bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Salmonella is one example of a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It is commonly found on poultry and can remain alive after butchering. It can grow and multiply when poultry is kept at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the bacteria may be active during thawing, storage or inadequate cooking.

“The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning resemble the flu and include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,” said Jess Benson, Director of the New Mexico Poison Center. “Often, illness doesn’t develop until 8 to 72 hours after the contaminated food was eaten, and the symptoms may last up to seven days. Many people who get Salmonella poisoning recover without treatment. However, Salmonella infections can be life threatening, especially for the very young, the elderly, and for persons with impaired immune systems.”

During and after a holiday feast, food often sits at room temperature longer than usual, providing opportunities for bacteria to grow. In addition to Salmonella, there are other types of bacteria that can cause illness. This may happen if foods are left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Food Poisoning Prevention Tips

Thaw frozen unstuffed turkeys in the refrigerator for 1-5 days, depending on the size of the bird. For faster thawing, turkeys can be put in watertight wrappers and submerged in cold water for four to 12 hours depending on the size of the bird. Add ice regularly to keep the water cold.

Do not thaw the turkey on the kitchen counter.

Hands, utensils, and work surfaces that touch raw poultry are likely to pick up bacteria. To avoid spreading bacteria to other foods, wash hands thoroughly before and after dressing the turkey.

All work surfaces and utensils should be washed promptly after use.

It is important to ensure complete cooking with a meat thermometer by pushing the point of the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat (usually the thigh) without touching the bone.

The turkey should be cooked until the thermometer registers between 180 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stuffing temperature should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you think someone has food poisoning call the New Mexico Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for emergency treatment information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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