Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips (Pt. 1): Four Steps (Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill)

With all that “action” talk from my recent posts about the Lethal Weapon movies series, I’m sure some of you have worked up a pretty good appetite. And it couldn’t come at a better moment! In the words of my brother, Terrance, “It’s Turkey Time, y’all!!!”

Turkey, fried chicken, ham, stuffing, greens, macaroni, cornbread, mashed potatoes, corn, black-eyed peas, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, green beans, pumpkin pie and all those other delicious desserts. Folks are traveling from far and wide to get some of my momma’s legendary Sweet Potato Pie and with good reason: more fights have been had over that pie than Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich! But let me not go there. In fact, let’s not talk about anything other than the safe way to prepare your food for this festive holiday (as instructed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This way, all you have to worry about is who’s coming over with empty tupperware containers that didn’t pitch in so much as a stick of butter. Scandalous old, thievin’-

Four Steps (Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill) to Food Safety

Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often.

  • Germs that cause food poisoning can survive in many places and spread around your kitchen.
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.
  • Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.

  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.
    • Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
    • When grocery shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other foods.
    • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge.

Cook: To the right temperature.

  • Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is safely cooked by checking its color and texture.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Check this chart for a detailed list of foods and temperatures.
    • 145°F for whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
    • 160°F for ground meats, such as beef and pork
    • 165°F for all poultry, including ground chicken and turkey
    • 165°F for leftovers and casseroles
    • 145°F for fresh ham (raw)
    • 145°F for fin fish or cook until flesh is opaque

Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

  • Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and know when to throw food out.
  • Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. (If outdoor temperature is above 90°F, refrigerate within 1 hour)
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter, because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.

Note: Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s hotter than 90°F outside).

That’s it for now. Click here for Part 2 where we delve into the specifics of preparing the main course: Turkey!!!

Link to article: Four Steps (Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill) to Food Safety


  1. I keep hearing about these pies and I’m starting to get seriously intrigued! 🤔

    “This way, all you have to worry about is who’s coming over with empty tupperware containers that didn’t pitch in so much as a stick of butter.”<<Who are these heathens?!? Have they no home training?

    Liked by 1 person

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