Thanksgiving, the eater's favorite holiday. Ours always starts on Wednesday with a little pre-prep and gathering last minute supplies.
As joyous the occasion, 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.
Salmonella celebrates this one more than most. First with the turkey and then joined by the encampment of the rest of their family in the shell eggs.
It’s easy to forget the family-unfriendly norovirus, the common cold and the flu. They too love the holidays. People are stressed and their army of defenses is weakened. Enter Jimmy with the runny nose and Jamie with the grumbling stomach. They can’t stay home without a babysitter. Everyone wants to see them. Their situation is a lot like an ocean cruise. “We’re committed. We are going!” And going and going until the ship is returned to port.
Consider fortifying your defenses during this 5 day siege to follow the food and avoid the foodborne.
10. Retire the reusable kitchen hand towels in favor of single-use paper. Convenient pop-up boxes are available at Office Depot and Staples.
9. Get an accurate food thermometer. Check for accuracy with boiling water or inserting in ice water. Use it for heating, cooling and reheating.
8. Train the resident family to wash their hands first thing on returning home. They were out shopping for pasteurized eggs as we enforce a holiday ban on shell eggs other than pasteurized.
7. Agree the rewards and punishments for complying with the temporary heightened standards. No turkey for anyone missing a handwash after using the bathroom. Extra handwashes earn extra servings or a glass of port.
6. Welcome guests with a hug or a fist bump.
5. Introduce guests to your Holiday Wellness Habit of periodic use of Purell - especially if anyone has a cold or tells you how sick they were yesterday. Cruise liner Rules In Effect!
4. Don't overcook the turkey. 160 - 165 F 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.
3. Maintain the rhythm of wellness while reheating leftovers.
2. Eat or freeze all the leftovers rather than sending granny home with a special assortment of salmonella sandwiches.
1. Tighten the loosened belt if you can! Goodbye hugs all around.