Since more foodborne illnesses occur at home than any place else and having owned a restaurant for 17 years I have a few tips for everyone on this Thanksgiving Day:
1) Wash your hands continuously, especially when handling raw meat products and fresh produce.
2) Wash and sanitize all food prep areas and utensils before, during, and after food preperation, especially after preparing raw meat products.
3) The best way to thaw a frozen turkey is in a refrigerator, not on the counter. The outside surfaces of the turkey could get warm (above 40 degrees) while the inside is still frozen. You do not want the opportunity for bacteria to grow by allowing the meat to warm.
4) Cook your meat thoroughly, using a meat thermometer not a "pop-up". See http://www.diagnosishealth.com/foodillness.htm for more info on specific meat inside cooking temperatures and procedures.
5) Do not leave food on the table for hours. Return it to the refrigerator as soon as possible, or throw it away! Bacteria can double every 20 minutes at room temperature. Foodborne Illnesses can ruin your holiday, at a minimum, and can actually kill you.
6) It is common for bacteria to be found in these products. The key is proper food preperation and proper hand washing. Proper cooking will kill the bacteria. If you or someone you know gets sick, or for more information, see: http://www.foodsafety.gov/~dms/fsefborn.html
Let's be careful out there and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!
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