British Columbia

Cook your Thanksgiving turkey properly warns BCCDC after 2 years of persistent salmonella outbreaks

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is reminding all thanks-givers this weekend to give a little extra attention to how they cook their turkey to avoid salmonella poisoning.

Children 4 years old and younger have the highest infection rates in the province

Don't let juices from raw meat come in contact with any other foods. (iStock )

Health officials in B.C. are reminding all thanks-givers this weekend to give a little extra attention to how they cook their turkey.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says not properly cooking poultry increases the risk of salmonellosis for those who handle or eat it.  

"Salmonellosis is serious, and it can ruin any Thanksgiving dinner, so remember to fully cook your turkey dinner and use a meat thermometer to ensure it is safe to eat," said Marsha Taylor, an epidemiologist with the BCCDC.

Symptoms of the food-born illness include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that develop 12 to 72 hours after infection and usually lasts four to seven days.

Children four years old and younger have the highest infection rates in the province.

By taking a few precautions, you can safely prepare your Thanksgiving dinner. ((iStock photo))

Proper handling and cooking

But there's also good news for turkey lovers. The BCCDC says prevention is relatively simple.

  • Wash your hands and cooking surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food. 
  • Keep raw meat separated from other foods and stored in the bottom of your refrigerator to ensure raw turkey and chicken juices don't drip down onto other foods.
  • Thaw frozen poultry products in the fridge or in cold water prior to cooking.
  • Never rinse raw poultry before cooking because it can spread bacteria wherever water splashes.
  • Always cook turkey and chicken products to a safe internal temperature of 74 Celsius or hotter to kill any harmful bacteria.
  • Cook stuffing separately in a casserole dish or stuff the bird just before cooking, and ensure the temperature reaches 74 Celsius or hotter at the centre of the stuffing.

Last year, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported 37 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella infantis illness were being investigated in British Columbia.

In May this year, the federal health agency issued a public health notice saying it had identified 566 laboratory-confirmed cases of salmonella across the country dating back to May 2017.

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