November 14, 2018 -- Westchester County Executive George Latimer reminded residents to set a place at the table for safety as they prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Latimer said: “Whether your holiday plans take you on the road or keep you in the kitchen, be sure to drive, cook and drink responsibly. Leave early and allow extra time for traffic, follow the Health Department’s food safety tips and avoid overindulging.”

To make the holiday healthier, the Health Department recommends residents go for a turkey trot, take a long walk or add some other exercise into their holiday tradition. When preparing the meal, cut down on the amount of fat and sugar in recipes and boost flavor with fresh herbs instead of salt.

When dining out, be aware that the Health Department inspects restaurants, which must prominently post their permit. If you don’t see a permit, contact the Health Department to assure the restaurant complies with State and County sanitary codes.

Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, MD said: “To keep germs out of your holiday meal wherever you celebrate, wash your hands thoroughly after exchanging greetings or reading a menu, and before you take that first bite. As flu season approaches and viruses circulate, good hand hygiene is important for everyone.”

The Health Department recommends holiday hosts and their kitchen helpers follow these seven food safety tips:

  • Wash hands and food-contact surfaces with hot soapy water thoroughly and often.
  • Thaw turkey in a pan in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Rinse all fruits and vegetables in cool running water and remove surface dirt.
  • Cook foods to proper temperatures. Turkey and stuffing must reach 165°F.
  • Refrigerate turkey, stuffing and sides within two hours.
  • Reheat leftovers to at least at least 165°F before serving. (Check the temperature with a metal probe thermometer.)

For more food preparation safety tips, go to