To help your guests avoid getting sick this Thanksgiving, officials from South Central Public Health urge people to follow these simple steps:

20 seconds of hand washing
The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is especially important when handling raw meats, both before and after touching the meat. Without proper handwashing, bacteria can accidentally be spread around the kitchen.

Say no to ‘bird baths’
That is, do not rinse or wash your turkey. Doing so can spread bacteria around the kitchen, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing poultry doesn’t remove bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the turkey to the correct internal temperature will ensure all bacteria are killed.

Take an accurate temperature inside, cook the stuffing outside the turkey
Don’t rely on those pop-up thermometers to determine if your turkey is safe! Take the bird’s temperature with a food thermometer in three areas — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh — and make sure all three locations reach 165°F. If one of those locations does not register at 165°F, then continue cooking until all three locations reach the correct internal temperature. In recent USDA research, 88 percent of participants did not cook their poultry to the safe internal cooking temperature of 165°F.

Use the two-hour rule to avoid foodborne illness
Everyone loves to graze during Thanksgiving, but when perishable food sits at room temperature, it is sitting in a temperature range where bacteria love to multiply. This is known as the ‘danger zone.’ If foods have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours they should be discarded.

Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
If you have questions, call the Health District at 208-737-5900 or the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert.

For more information visit:, our website, or follow us on Facebook and twitter for #foodsafety tips. Visit to see the latest on the turkey salmonella outbreak.

Source: South Central Public Health District


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