Tag Archives: family

Handle Your Turkey, Leftovers Safely This Thanksgiving

As you gather with family and friends to break bread this Thanksgiving Day, DHEC wants to make sure you avoid any food-handling issues that could result in illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food-handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems that lead to poultry-associated foodborne disease outbreaks.

Here are some tips to consider before, during and after you fry your turkey.

Don’t buy the bird too early

If you bought your turkey fresh, keep it in the refrigerator (40° F or less) and cook it within one to two days. If you bought your turkey frozen, to thaw it safely in the refrigerator, allow for a thaw rate of 4-5 pounds per day. For example, for a 12-pound bird it will take 2.5 to 3 days in the refrigerator to thaw. It should then be cooked within one to two days.

You can thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. A frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, but a thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe as it moves into the danger zone between 40° F and 140° F, where bacteria can grow rapidly.

Safely Cook Your Turkey

Set the oven temperature to at least 325° F. Place the completely thawed turkey with the breast side up in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. To make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165° F, check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

Turkey Frying  

When working with large amounts of hot oil, select a cooking vessel large enough to completely submerge the turkey without it spilling over. The oil should cover the turkey by 1 to 2 inches. Select a safe location outdoors for deep frying a turkey. Heat the cooking oil to 350° F. Very slowly and carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil. Monitor the temperature of the oil with a thermometer during cooking. Never leave the hot oil unattended.

Allow approximately 3 to 5 minutes of cook time per pound. When reaching approximate time needed, check to see if the turkey is safely cooked by removing the turkey from the oil, draining the oil from the cavity and with a food thermometer, check the internal temperature of bird. DO NOT test the temperature while the turkey is submerged in oil.

Monitor Your Leftovers

After dinner, remember to follow the two-hour rule. For safety, do not leave the turkey or other perishable foods sitting out at room temperature longer than two hours. Refrigerate your leftovers at 40° F or colder as soon as possible to prevent food poisoning.

If you have any questions about keeping your leftovers safe, you can check out the USDA’s FoodKeeper app. It’s available on Android and Apple devices. The app provides storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, for more than 500 products.

November is National Family Caregivers Month

By Michele James, MSW, Director, DHEC Division of Healthy Aging

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November is National Family Caregivers Month, a great time to honor and support the 65 million Americans who unselfishly provide care for elderly and/or disabled loved ones who have chronic conditions ranging from cancer, stroke, or arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease, which is the among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. It often happens that a spouse or an adult child ends up serving as the primary caregiver, gradually taking on more responsibility as a senior’s needs change. Family caregivers assist with personal care, provide transportation, act as medical advocates, and offer emotional support for those who cannot live independently, and they do this while managing the demands of their personal lives, their jobs, and their families.

Here are some great ways to express your thanks and gratitude to the caregivers in your family:

  • Tell them in words. They can’t read our minds! Take time for a conversation or to write a letter expressing your appreciation of the important role they play.
  • Listen. Caregiving can create a sense of isolation. Ask how the caregiver is doing. Check in regularly.
  • Ask how you can help. Most caregivers have a wish list when it comes to balancing their caregiving duties with their work, family and personal responsibilities—but it can be hard for them to ask for help.
  • Enlist everyone. Encourage the caregiver to share information about your loved one’s needs. Brainstorm solutions to spread out the load.
  • Bring in a professional. If the family conversation isn’t going well, or family members are stumped about what to do, it’s worth it to bring in outside help.
  • Arrange for support services. If family members have the time and ability to help out with care tasks, set up a schedule. If family can’t do it all, help the caregiver locate professional services.
  • Hire in-home care. Arranging for home care services can be the very best way to lighten the caregiver’s workload and stress level, while providing peace of mind for everyone in the family. Families who share the cost of these services often find that in-home care is an affordable solution—even an economic advantage if it allows caregivers to continue in their own careers.

These people, so vital to our nation’s senior care system and to their loved ones, often put their own physical, emotional and financial wellbeing at risk. Sometimes, before anyone notices what’s happening, the senior’s care needs increase so much that the wellbeing of the caregiving family member suffers. They may neglect their own health and wellness routine. They may cut back on their hours at work or leave their job entirely. They are at higher risk of depression and other stress-related conditions. Caregivers’ stress levels and associated mental and physical decline can affect the quality of care that they are able to provide which, in turn, can result in increased suffering for the already vulnerable care recipient.  For more information, visit the National Council on Aging or Right At Home.