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No one wants to spend the holiday season battling any sickness.

With the holidays drawing near, sharing a meal with friends and family can increase your chances of getting any sickness, especially foodborne.

Commonly known as food poisoning, a foodborne illness can occur when you eat something contaminated by disease-causing germs like bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

Food contamination usually happens when food isn’t cooked or reheated thoroughly, stored correctly, or mishandled, along with other causes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.

As you and your loved ones prepare to gather this Thanksgiving, the CDC has compiled a list of tips to help ensure Thanksgiving meals are cooked correctly and won’t get anyone sick.

Store the turkey properly  

If you purchased a frozen turkey, it should be stored in a freezer with a temperature of zero degrees or below. The turkey should remain in there until you are ready to cook it.

Safety thaw out a turkey

The CDC recommends thawing a turkey in a refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Do not thaw the turkey by leaving it on a counter at room temperature.

The bird should be stored at a safe temperature during the thawing-out process, and leaving it on a counter to thaw out at room temperature could create a breeding ground for germs.


According to the CDC, raw turkey and its juice can contaminate anything they touch. Hence, experts recommend that cooks wash their hands and disinfect their work area before preparing food.

Germs can survive in many areas in the kitchen, including your hands, cooking utensils, cutting boards, and countertops.

Divide and Conquer

While cooking, the CDC advises people to separate raw foods from items that are ready to eat. Doing so will avoid any cross-contamination and potential illnesses.

Cook Thoroughly

A food thermometer will help ensure that your dishes reach the correct internal temperature (165 to 175 degrees) to ensure it’s cooked.

Store Food Correctly

Leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast should be stored within two hours after cooking or an hour if the food was exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees. Refrigerators should be at 40 degrees or lower to ensure food freshness.

Dishes that have turkey in them should be eaten three to four days after the holiday or stored in the freezer for later.

Holiday leftovers should be reheated at 165 degrees or hotter before serving or eating.