As joyous as Thanksgiving is, it’s also a special feast day for bacteria and virus, particularly for salmonella and norovirus – the poster children for holiday pain. Staying well can make the difference between a memory of magic or misery. Good hand hygiene can do more for protecting holiday health than an over-cooked turkey.
Consider fortifying your defenses during this five-day siege to follow the food and avoid the foodborne.
- Retire the reusable kitchen hand towels in favor of single-use paper towels.
- Get an accurate food thermometer. Check for accuracy with boiling water or inserting it in ice water. Use it for heating, cooling and reheating.
- Train family members to wash their hands first thing on returning home.
- Encourage heightened compliance with good handwashing and sanitizing practices. No turkey for anyone missing a handwash after using the bathroom.
- Welcome guests with a hug or a fist bump. If you do shake hands, sanitize hands afterwards with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Introduce guests to your holiday wellness habit of periodic use of handwashing as well as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer—especially if anyone has a cold or tells you how sick they were yesterday.
- Don't overcook the turkey. A temperature in the 160 - 165F range keeps the white meat moist. 170F is best for the dark meat. At 180F, everything is ruined. Remember to let stand for 5-10 minutes as the temperature will rise at least 5 degrees F. It’s part of the cooking process.
- Maintain the rhythm of wellness while reheating leftovers.
- Eat or freeze all the leftovers rather than sending grandma home with a special assortment of salmonella sandwiches.
- Tighten the belt. Goodbye hugs all around. But if you do shake hands, don’t fret, just wash or sanitize your hands afterwards.