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Health Fusion: Keep your Thanksgiving safe from salmonella

Roasted turkey, turkey sandwiches and turkey tetrazzini. The Thanksgiving holiday provides plenty of opportunity for people to eat a lot of turkey in a variety of ways. Experts say all of that meat also raises the risk of salmonella. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams explains how experts are working to stop salmonella infections before they happen. And she has tips on how to handle your Thanksgiving turkey safely.

Salmonella are bacteria that live in the intestines of people and animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can get the infection by consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. The CDC estimates salmonella causes nearly 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year.

And poultry, especially when it's undercooked, is a source of concern.

Experts at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine are working on ways to use genomics to help poultry producers identify and eliminate potential sources of salmonella in hopes of thwarting outbreaks before they happen.

Dr. Tim Johnson says they've done genome sequencing on thousands of salmonella samples and created an atlas of salmonella.

"This atlas guides a risk tool that couples genetic information with benchtop experiments to identify the bad players capable of causing severe human illness," says Johnson. "Our goal is to provide this pipeline to producers in a 'plug-and-play' format, capable of quickly telling a producer if a new, high-risk strain of salmonella has emerged in their system."


Here are 4 tips from the CDC to help keep your Thanksgiving turkey safe from salmonella:

  • Thaw turkey safely: Thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator in a container. Or in a leak-proof plastic bag plastic bag in cold water (chance the water every 30 minutes). Don't thaw it on the counter, as the turkey can reach a temperature that can harbor bacteria.
  • Handle the raw meat properly: Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat. Use a separate cutting board and be sure to wash it, the counter and any utensils that touched the raw meat with soapy water before prepping other foods.
  • Cook stuffing thoroughly: If you cook stuffing in the bird, bring the temperature to 165 degrees. Wait 20 minutes after removing the turkey from the oven before scooping out the stuffing.
  • Cook turkey thoroughly: Set the temperature to at least 325 degrees and bring internal temperature to 165 degrees.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!
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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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