During holiday season, the Department of Health encourages everyone to practice important food safety measures when preparing meals.
- When is cooked food safe for eating?
- Safe food handling & preparation tips
- Why it’s important
- More tips & information
- About bird flu, H1N1 & eating poultry
You must cook foods to the following temperatures to kill germs:
- Turkey, Chicken, Duck
Whole, Pieces & Ground: 165º F
- Beef, Veal, Lamb, Steaks & Roasts: 145º F
- Ground Beef, Veal, Lamb: 160º F
- Fish & Seafood: 145º F
- Pork: 160º F
- Egg Dishes: 160º F
Place a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and/or in the center of the food and stuffing to get a true reading.
- Wash hands before and after preparing food
- Separate - don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods.
- Wash hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat or poultry.
- Give your turkey ample time to defrost: refrigerator – 24 hours per 5 lbs of bird; cold water bath – 30 minutes per 1 lb of bird.
- Buy a fresh turkey (not frozen) one day before cooking.
- Stuffing should be moist and the turkey should be cooked immediately after stuffing.
- Cook turkey until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and/or in the center of the food and stuffing reads: 165°F (Do not let thermometer touch bones when reading temperature).
- Keep hot foods at 140°F or above (using chafing dishes or hot plates) and cold food at 40°F or below (using ice).
- Eat cooked food promptly and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after cooking. (Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours).
- Refrigerate or freeze food in shallow storage containers for quicker cooling.
- Refrigerated turkey should be eaten within 3-4 days; gravy, stuffing and other sides within 1-2 days; and frozen leftovers within one month.
- Reheat leftovers to 165°F (should be hot and steaming).
- Every year, millions of people get sick with foodborne illness.
- Foodborne illness can resemble the flu, and many people don't link their illness to something they ate.
- It is not always the last thing you ate that makes you ill. You can become sick anytime from 20 minutes to six weeks after eating contaminated food.
- Infants and young children, pregnant women, and older adults are at greatest risk for foodborne illness.
- While commercially prepared foods have been the cause of many outbreaks of foodborne illness, improper food preparation at home can also easily lead to illness.
Is there bird flu in the U.S?
No, the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, commonly known as "bird flu," is NOT present in the U.S. There is much media coverage on the bird flu potentially becoming the next pandemic (global outbreak) flu, but currently there is no bird flu in the U.S.
Is it safe to eat chicken, poultry, and eggs?
YES, it is safe to eat chicken, poultry, and eggs. This includes poultry such as turkey.
It is also safe to eat pork and pork products. You cannot get influenza from eating pork, even if the meat came from a pig that was ill with influenza. While pigs can become infected with the novel H1N1 influenza virus, commonly called swine flu, infection with this strain of influenza is actually uncommon in pigs. To prevent foodborne illness, pork should be cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 145 F.
Has the U.S. banned poultry coming from countries affected by avian (bird) flu?
Yes, the U.S. government has banned imported poultry from countries affected by bird flu. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made very strict importing restrictions to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus in the U.S.
The USDA has also developed a surveillance system to monitor bird populations in the U.S. For more information, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Office at www.usda.gov/birdflu
Can a person get the avian (bird) flu by eating it?
NO, bird flu is not transmissible by eating poultry. For protection against many types of food borne illnesses, all poultry should be cooked to 165º F or hotter. Cooking food properly also destroys other viruses and bacteria, including Salmonella and E.coli.