Avoiding germs at Thanksgiving dinner

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Instead of passing the turkey on Thanksgiving, you may be passing the bacteria.

Luckily, Dr. Donna Duberg from Saint Louis University, stopped by to teach us how to eliminate germs.

Duberg said there are five simple rules to follow in order to avoid foodborne illnesses.

First of all, it is important to remember that the environment matters.  Be sure to clean the sink and counter before beginning to prepare the turkey.  Use either a one-part vinegar and nine-part water solution or hot, soapy water.

Next, it is important to thaw the bird evenly.  Duberg suggests using one of three ways to thaw the turkey.  Either refrigerate it for five to six days, put it in cold water, or microwave it.

If you decide to use the water method, let the turkey sit in 40 degree water, 30 minutes for each pound.  This will cause the bird to thaw evenly, and the cool temperature will slow bacteria growth.

If you decide to thaw the turkey in the microwave, just be sure to cook the bird immediately.  This is because some of the bird may have not been thawed evenly and could start growing bacteria.

Another tip Dr. Duberg gives for avoiding foodborne illness is deciding how to stuff your turkey.

The age-old debate still stands true, should the stuffing be served inside the turkey or separately?

The CDC said that stuffing should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and that will kill any bacteria.

Duberg also said it is vital to cook your dinner correctly in order to kill any germs.

It is important to make sure the turkey is completely thawed before starting to cook.

If the bird is being cooked without the stuffing, the innermost part of the thigh, breast and wing should all be checked for temperature.  Each place should reach 165 degrees.

Finally, Duberg said serving order is important to preventing the contamination of food.

She insisted that a cooked turkey should not be left out for longer than two hours. A turkey that is left out will start to grow more bacteria if there is any already present.

This could cause those with a weaker immune system, such as children and the elderly, to easily get sick.

For more information on Dr. Donna Duberg, visit: http://www.slu.edu/clinical-laboratory-science/faculty-and-staff/donna-duberg