KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — 48 million people get sick from foodborne diseases each year in the United States according to the CDC. To make sure your Thanksgiving meal is prepared safely, here are some tips to reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness.

Four steps to prevent food poisoning at home. (CDC)


  • Always wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water after handling raw foods and before eating.
    • In addition, wash your hands between kitchen tasks so that germs are less likely to be transferred from one task to another.
  • Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
    • The CDC recommends this even if you do not plan to eat the peel as germs on the peel or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.
    • Using soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is also not recommended.
  • Do NOT place raw turkey under running water as washing raw meat can cause bacteria to spread up to three feet away.


The CDC says some foods are more associated with foodborne illnesses and food poisoning than others. Raw meat is the most likely to be contaminated, and this is why it is important for food to be separated so that germs cannot spread between food items.

  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • When shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other foods.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.


Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. This is why using a food thermometer to tell when food is fully cooked is important according to the CDC.

  • Use a thin-tipped, metal stemmed thermometer in the thickest portions of the meat to ensure that a safe internal temperature has been reached.
    • Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork, including fresh ham (raw): 145°F
      • Allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating
    • Fish with fins: 145°F or cook until flesh is opaque
    • Ground meats, such as beef and pork: 160°F
    • All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F
    • Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F
  • Check this chart for a detailed list of temperatures


Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. The CDC recommends never leaving perishable food out for more than 2 hours or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°F.

  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and know when to throw food out
  • Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.
  • Thaw frozen turkeys safely in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
  • NEVER thaw foods on the counter because bacteria multiply quickly in the partsof the food that reach room temperature.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms may be different depending on the germ you swallowed. It may take hours or days to develop symptoms and staying hydrated when sick is important. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

When to see a doctor:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • High fever (temperature over 102°F, measured in your mouth)
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including little or no urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days

To find out more about food safety, visit the CDC’s Food Safety page.