Avoid Thanksgiving holiday food poisoning

Photo: CDC
Photo: CDC(KWQC)
Published: Nov. 22, 2019 at 12:51 PM MST
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That family Thanksgiving meal is probably the biggest you will cook all year. That being said, you don’t want to add food poisoning to the menu.

South Dakota Department of Health experts have some simple food safety tips to keep your holiday meal memorable for the right reasons.

“While you enjoy all the holiday festivities, don’t forget good food safety practices,” said Josh Clayton, state epidemiologist. “Wash your hands thoroughly, clean and sanitize work surfaces after preparing raw meat and poultry, cook and store foods at proper temperatures, and don’t prepare food when you’re sick.”

Symptoms of food-borne illness include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most people recover on their own without medication but some need fluids to prevent dehydration.

According to a newly-released CDC report, during 2018 and early 2019 public health officials investigated a nationwide Salmonella outbreak related to raw turkey products. The outbreak was widespread, sickening 356 people in 42 states, including South Dakota, and the District of Colombia.

Investigators found the outbreak strain in several brands and types of raw turkey products for people and pets highlighting the importance of handling and cooking raw turkey safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates food-borne illness sickens 48 million Americans every year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. For South Dakota this extrapolates to approximately 125,000 illnesses, 340 hospitalizations and eight deaths annually.

Through the end of October, South Dakota had reported 749 cases of the food-borne illnesses Salmonella (146), Campylobacter (481) and E. coli (122) for the year, up from the 5-year baseline of 639 cases.

Clayton recommends the following safety tips for preparing holiday foods:

• Clean and sanitize. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils and countertops.

• Separate. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods.

• Cook foods to a safe temperature, checking with a food thermometer (145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, 165°F for poultry and stuffing).

• Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate leftovers right away.

• When cooking food ahead of time cool it quickly and reheat properly.

• Don’t lick the bowl if raw eggs are in the batter; don’t use raw eggs in eggnog.

• Never use unpasteurized milk in eggnog or homemade ice cream, or for drinking.

Learn more about food safety at