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Tips to keep your Thanksgiving holiday germ-free

(Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

An estimated 46 million turkeys will be consumed in America over the next few days. During the Thanksgiving holiday, people are busy planning the menu and compiling the grocery list and can sometimes forget that unsafe food preparation can lead to foodborne illness.

Trent Onamamn, sous chef at Park City Medical Center in Utah, says a good place to start is the cutting boards. “In most kitchens you should always have two different cutting boards, one being for raw meats and one being for veggies. That way, when you’re working with meats they don’t work on the same cutting board so you don’t cross contaminate them.”

Onamamn says the dirtiest place in the kitchen is the sink and it’s best to use each compartment differently. “Use one side for your meats and one side for your veggies.”

Milk is a potentially hazardous food. Listeria and E. coli can grow rapidly in milk because it’s high in protein and moisture. “Take it out of the fridge, pour what you need and put it back. It’s not something you want to leave out very long because it goes bad really fast.”

Turkey is potentially hazardous meat. Make sure to cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees to kill all the microorganisms that have the potential to make us sick. “The biggest mistake most people make when cooling it down is that they put it in the fridge and cover it. When it’s covered, it’ll steam itself. The hot air won’t be allowed to escape and the cold air won’t be allowed to penetrate it.”

When dealing with turkey, Onamamn says to leave it uncovered in the fridge for at least an hour before you completely cover it up. “That way it will allow it to cool down from the temperature danger zone which is 140 degrees to below 68 degrees.”

In the temperature danger zone, bacteria have the best chance to grow. “Cooking it to the right temperature, making sure you’re not leaving it out on the counter too long, putting it away, cooling it down the right way; those things will help keep your holiday season microorganism and germ free.”