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Parkridge Health System Offers Food Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Cooking

Parkridge Medical Center December 01, 2011

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Nov. 23, 2011) – Turkey Day is nearly here, and Parkridge Health System would like to share some friendly advice for those in charge of preparing a Thanksgiving feast.

Those hosting a holiday meal may find themselves rushing to the store for last-minute ingredients and putting the final touches on Thanksgiving tables and menus. There are often a number of dishes being prepared on Thanksgiving, and in the tumult it can be easy to forget about practicing proper food safety. In order to prevent giving family and friends a foodborne illness along with the Turkey Day dinner, Parkridge recommends following recommended guidelines for food preparation, serving and storage.

Preparation – Always remember to wash your hands before and after handling raw poultry, meat, eggs or seafood. Be sure to thoroughly wash cutting boards when switching from one type of food to another. (You don’t want raw turkey juices on your lettuce!) Stick with plastic or stainless cutting boards if possible - wooden ones can be more difficult to clean properly. Making your famous green bean casserole or potatoes au gratin? Make sure you wash your produce thoroughly before preparing – unwashed vegetables can carry illness-inducing bacteria from the soil in which they were grown.

Be sure to follow the thawing instructions on the turkey. If you are cooking a big bird for the big day, it should already be in your refrigerator – experts recommend 24 hours of thawing for every five pounds of turkey. If time is of the essence, put the turkey in the sink or other container and cover with water. USDA guidelines note that those using this method should change the water every 30 minutes. Resist the urge to wash your turkey before cooking. Why? Running water can splash off the turkey and contaminate/spread bacteria to other kitchen surfaces.

Cooking – Do NOT put a frozen turkey in the oven. The outside will burn and the inside will not cook properly. Use a meat thermometer to gauge your bird’s internal temperature – the Food and Drug Administration recommends that a turkey be cooked until it reaches 165 degrees on a thermometer inserted into the innermost part of the thigh, the wing and the thickest portion of the breast. When serving, remember that it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

Storing – After the meal has ended, don’t leave leftovers to cool on the counter – they can and should immediately be placed in the freezer or refrigerator. The rule of thumb for leftovers? Use them or freeze them within three to five days after preparation. Make sure that reheated leftovers are cooked to the proper temperature — about 140 to 165 degrees — before consuming.Parkridge Health System wishes everyone a Happy – and foodborne-illness-free - Thanksgiving. For more information on food safety, visit and For more information about Parkridge Health System, visit

About Parkridge Health System
Parkridge Health System is a multi-campus facility which includes Parkridge Medical Center, Parkridge East Hospital and Parkridge Valley. Parkridge Medical Center, the system’s main campus on McCallie Avenue, offers comprehensive acute care services including cardiology, oncology at the Commission on Cancer approved Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, complete surgical services including the first robotics surgery program in the region, award-winning orthopaedics, and an Emergency Services Department designated as an Accredited Chest Pain Center. Parkridge East Hospital is a full service hospital located in East Ridge. Parkridge East is committed to providing the best in obstetrical care including Neonatal Intensive Care, as well as surgical services such as robotics, orthopaedics, and gynecologic procedures. Parkridge East also has an Emergency Services Department designated as an Accredited Chest Pain Center. Parkridge Valley, our behavioral health facility, offers mental health services for children, adolescents and adults as well as treatments for addictive disorders. Parkridge is a family of hospitals for your family. To learn more, visit or contact MedLine at (800) 242-5662.

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