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City of Kansas City, Mo.

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City encourages safe holiday food habits

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department urges residents and guests to practice safe food handling techniques as they prepare food for the holiday weekend.

“People often know and practice safe food handling in their kitchens, but during the stress of the holidays, they may forget when they are preparing meals for large family get-togethers,” said Bert Malone, manager of the Health Department’s Environmental Health Services Division. “Every year in the United Sates there are 75 million cases of food borne illnesses, and most of those are preventable.”

Taking the following steps will greatly decrease the risk of food borne illnesses:


    Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling both uncooked and cooked food. While preparing uncooked meat, have someone else turn on and off the faucet to avoid getting juice from the meat on the faucet.

    Keep raw or uncooked food separate from ready to eat food.

    When thawing food to be cooked, the safest way is either in a refrigerator set at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below, or during the cooking process. Remember to allow approximately one day for every five pounds of meat if thawed in the refrigerator. You may thaw food under cold running water or in a microwave, but the food must then be cooked immediately.

    Before cooking the turkey, check the cavity. Some turkeys will include the heart, gizzards and other extra parts stuffed in the cavity. Anything left in the cavity, whether it is prepared stuffing or the bag of parts, will affect the taste of the meat and require a much longer cooking time.

Cooking and serving

    Cook meat thoroughly. Turkey should be cooked to a temperature of at least 165 degrees throughout the meat. If the turkey does not come with an automatic pop-out button, use a cooking thermometer or check the joints to make sure that there is no blood visible and that cooking juices coming out of the cooked meat are clear.

    Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

    Make sure that everyone who handles the food, whether to serve themselves or others, washes their hands thoroughly.


    Do not leave food sitting out to be eaten later; if the prepared food is cooked and is to be served warm, you should use a heating system that will keep it over 135 degrees; if it needs to be kept cold, use refrigerating system or cooler that will keep it under 41 degrees. Hot or cold foods that are kept in the “temperature danger zone”, between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, can grow harmful bacteria very quickly, making it unsafe to eat. Any hot or cold food that is left out at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown away.

    When cooling leftover cooked turkey, cut the meat into small pieces to speed the cooling process.

    Leftover cooked turkey may be kept safely in the refrigerator for four to six days. If you plan to keep it longer than that, freeze the left-over meat.

For more information about safe food handling, visit the Health Department website,

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, public information officer for the Health Department, 816-840-2548 (pager). Follow the Health Department on Facebook and Twitter, and

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City News Releases - 2010

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