Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine is urging Pennsylvanians to take COVID-19 and food safety precautions as they plan Thanksgiving celebrations during the holidays.
“The holidays are a time for togetherness, but this year, we must rethink what that looks like,” Levine said. “This Thanksgiving, choose to celebrate with the people in your household and virtually connect with your loved ones. If you plan to leave your home to celebrate the holiday, please follow the travel mitigation order, wear a mask and stay six feet apart from others. Weather-permitting, sit outside and enjoy the day. Do whatever you can to limit the spread of COVID-19 at this critical point of the pandemic.”
The travel mitigation order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 20, and shall remain in effect until further notice.
The CDC recommends keeping anyone who is not preparing food out of the kitchen for COVID-19 and food safety reasons. Use single-use options like salad dressing and condiment packets. If you must attend a gathering, take your own food, drinks, cups, plates and utensils.
“We are seeing our highest case counts of the pandemic across Pennsylvania,” said Levine. “As I have said many times, the virus knows no boundaries, even between family members. It is imperative that everyone follows the safety measures laid out throughout the pandemic to protect themselves, loved ones and all Pennsylvanians. In addition to COVID-19, practice food safety, especially when cooking the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.”
Further CDC cooking recommendations include thawing your turkey in the refrigerator in a container, leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water, or in the microwave following the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the container. Remember that raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook your turkey thoroughly at an oven temperature of at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not finished cooking until the food thermometer reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, cook stuffing separately from the turkey and put the stuffing in the turkey just before placing the turkey in the oven to ensure the stuffing is thoroughly cooked.