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New York City Seal Press Release

New York City Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene

Office of Communications
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Greg Butler
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347


New York City Health Commissioner, Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH today wished New Yorkers a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and reminded them of food safety tips to follow while preparing holiday meals.

Dr. Frieden said, "All Thanksgiving cooks can take simple measures to ensure that their holiday meal is safe. Cook meat and poultry thoroughly so that juices are clear without any trace of pink coloring and thoroughly wash hands before and after preparing any meal, especially after handling raw meat or poultry. Simple food safety steps can greatly minimize the risk of transmitting food-borne illness."

Symptoms of food-borne illness can vary and may include fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Incubation periods for different types of food-borne illnesses vary and can range from a few minutes to several hours, days, weeks or even months. Basic food protection measures – including thorough hand washing and washing of kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water – greatly reduce the possibility of spreading food-borne illness.

DOHMH recommends the following guidelines for proper food preparation:

  • Keep packages of frozen poultry or meat frozen until use. Thaw poultry or meat in the refrigerator or microwave not on a counter or other surface.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry, as well as their drippings, from coming into contact with other foods. Wash kitchen surfaces, particularly cutting boards, as well as utensils, with hot, soapy water after preparing raw meat and poultry.
  • Always wash hands with hot, soapy water immediately after touching raw poultry meat.
  • Using a food thermometer, ensure that the center of the turkey breast and the center of the stuffing inside of a turkey are heated to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the turkey has a "pop-up" temperature indicator, it is also recommended that a food thermometer be used to test in several places, including the innermost part of the thigh and the center of the stuffing.
  • If you do not have a thermometer, do not stuff the turkey. To see if an unstuffed turkey has been cooked adequately, pierce several parts of the turkey with a fork. The juices should be clear, without any trace of pink coloring.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Perishable foods should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • Fresh turkey may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Make sure it is wrapped carefully while being refrigerated.

For additional information on safe food handling, prevention of food-borne illness, or labeling of meat and poultry products, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555 or visit

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Poison Control Center is also open for emergencies and advice 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including Thanksgiving. The Poison Control Center can be reached at (212) POISONS (764-7667), (212) VENENOS (836-3667) for Spanish language speakers, and (212) 689-9014 for TDD users. For more information, visit