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Quad Cities in Brief: Tips for a bacteria-free Thanksgiving

Tips for a bacteria-free Thanksgiving

More than 45 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day, with a never-ending list of side dishes and desserts. The Thanksgiving meal is by far the largest and most stressful meal many consumers prepare all year, leaving room for mistakes that can make guests sick.

Begin by following these five steps:

Wash hands, not turkey

Washing your hands before cooking is the simplest way to stop the spread of bacteria, while washing your turkey is the easiest way to spread bacteria all over your kitchen. According to the 2016 Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Survey, 68 percent of consumers wash poultry in the kitchen sink, which is not recommended by the USDA. Research shows that washing meat or poultry can splash bacteria around your kitchen by up to 3 feet, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing doesn’t remove bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the turkey to the correct internal temperature will ensure all bacteria are killed.

The exception to this rule is brining.

To stuff or not to stuff

For optimal food safety, do not stuff the turkey. Even if the turkey is cooked to the correct internal temperature, the stuffing inside may not have reached a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. It is best to cook the stuffing in a separate dish.

Take the temperature of the bird

Although there are various ways to cook a turkey, the only way to avoid foodborne illness is to make sure it is cooked to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Take the bird’s temperature in three areas — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh — make sure all three locations reach 165ºF. If one of those locations does not register at 165ºF, then continue cooking until all three locations reach the correct internal temperature.

Follow two-hour rule

Perishable foods should not be left on the table or countertops for longer than two hours. After two hours, food falls into the Danger Zone, temperatures between 40-140ºF, where bacteria can rapidly multiply. If that food is then eaten, your guests could get sick. Cut turkey into smaller slices and refrigerate along with other perishable items, such as potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Leftovers should stay safe in the refrigerator for four days.

Call the Hotline

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. You can also chat live at, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

Consumers with food safety questions can visit to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

YC’s Bliss leads nursing association

Yavapai College Nursing Professor Selina Bliss already has a line of credentials after her name, including Ph.D., and Registered Nurse. She recently added another: President of the Arizona Nursing Association, or AzNA.

“What an honor,” said Bliss, who will serve as the AzNA president for the next two years -- the 26th and 27th years of her YC teaching career. Bliss previously served as the AzNA board’s secretary and has chaired and served on a variety of association committees since the 1990s.  She also serves on the board of directors for the Arizona League For Nursing, a professional organization for nursing educators.

Information provided by Yavapai College.

No fees Friday at PNF

Prescott National Forest wants to encourage everyone to get outside, recreate and enjoy the great outdoors on Friday November 24th by waiving the day-use fees across the forest. The forest offices will be closed on Thursday November 23rd in observance of Thanksgiving.

All fees will be waived at Lynx Lake Recreation Area, Granite Basin Recreation Area, Thumb Butte, Mingus Mountain Recreation Area, Hayfield Draw and Alto Pit day use areas.

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