"Food is an important part of many holiday celebrations, but donít
let food-related illness ruin your holiday," said Dr. Arnold. "Make
sure to follow proper precautions when handling food, to prevent you
or your loved ones from food-related illness this holiday season."
Food safety boils down to three basic rules:
In Illinois, it is estimated that as many as 250,000 cases of
foodborne illness may occur each year. However, because these
illnesses can be quite mild and because the vast majority of them
occur in the home, many go unreported. Yet, foodborne illnesses can
lead to serious complications and even death. Therefore, how you
handle food in your home can mean the difference between health and
If you or a family member develops nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
fever or abdominal cramps, it could be food poisoning. Symptoms of
foodborne illnesses can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks
after eating the contaminated food. Most often, people get sick
within four to 48 hours after eating bad food. Some foodborne
illnesses will resolve without treatment. However, if the symptoms
are severe or if the victim is very young, old, pregnant or already
ill, call a doctor or go to a nearby hospital immediately.
The Illinois Department of Public
Health encourages the following food safety practices to avoid
foods that are not served immediately. If food is left
unrefrigerated longer than two hours, the chance of bacterial
always be thoroughly washed with soap and warm water before
washcloths should be kept clean. Sponges are known for harboring
bacteria, so eliminate or limit their use in the kitchen.
Countertops and utensils should be
washed with hot, soapy water between each step in food
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Store all raw meat
products on the bottom shelf or separate from other food
products in your refrigerator, especially during the thawing
process. This will help keep raw meat juices from contaminating
Start early and
thaw turkey in a refrigerator or in a place where the air
temperature is no higher than 40 degrees F. A 20-pound turkey
will take about three days to thaw completely in a refrigerator.
Do not begin cooking a turkey until it has completely thawed.
Be sure meat and
poultry reach the proper temperature in order to make sure they
are cooked thoroughly. To find the proper temperatures, visit
After a meal,
immediately refrigerate leftovers such as meat, dressing, gravy
or soups in small, shallow containers.
Do not allow foods
to sit several hours at room temperature, as this will provide
time for the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Refrigerate
stuffing and other items separately from the bird.
Do not cool leftovers on the kitchen
counter. Divide them into smaller portions so they will cool
more quickly, and put them in the refrigerator as soon as
possible. Serve leftovers either very cold (directly from the
refrigerator) or very hot (heated to 165 degrees F or higher).
For more information on proper food safety practices, visit
Illinois Department of Public Health
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]