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TurkeyNov. 17, 2017 - Whether your Thanksgiving plans include preparing and serving a festive meal or dining out, the Westchester County Department of Health has expert advice to help keep you and your loved ones healthy this holiday weekend.

“After you greet your guests or read a menu, and before you take that first bite, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to avoid ingesting a serving of germs along with your dinner,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health. “As flu season approaches, practicing good hand hygiene is always a good idea.”

“The chef, all kitchen helpers and guests should wash hands frequently, cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze or cough or sneeze into their elbow if one is not available, and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth,” she added.

Follow these seven tips to safely serve your holiday meal:

1. Clean: The number one tip to safely prepare your holiday meal in your home is to keep everything clean.

2. Thaw - Never defrost a turkey by leaving it out at room temperature.

3. Separate and Prepare - Bacteria on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey.

4. Stuff Safely - Many food borne outbreaks have been caused by stuffed, roasted turkey. That’s because it takes a long time for heat to penetrate deep into the cavity, so bacteria can survive inside the bird.

5. Cook -Turkeys should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. How long it will take depends on oven temperature, temperature fluctuation and turkey weight.

6. Reheat – Leftovers, including turkey meat, stuffing and stock should be reheated to at least 165°F before serving. (Make sure to use your metal stem probe thermometer to check.)

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