More than 45 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day, with a never-ending list of side dishes and desserts. The Thanksgiving meal is by far the largest and most stressful meal many consumers prepare all year, leaving room for mistakes that can make guests sick. But never fear, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is available with tips and resources to make this Thanksgiving safe and stress-free.

“Turkey and other meat and poultry may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter that can lead to serious foodborne illness,” said acting FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker. “By properly handling and cooking your turkey, you can avoid these harmful pathogens and ensure your family has a safe and healthy Thanksgiving feast.”

Begin by following these five steps:

Wash your hands, but not your turkey

Washing your hands before cooking is the simplest way to stop the spread of bacteria, while washing your turkey is the easiest way to spread bacteria all over your kitchen. According to the 2016 Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Survey, 68 percent of consumers wash poultry in the kitchen sink, which is not recommended by the USDA. Research shows that washing meat or poultry can splash bacteria around your kitchen by up to 3 feet, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing doesn’t remove bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the turkey to the correct internal temperature will ensure all bacteria are killed.

The exception to this rule is brining. When rinsing brine off of a turkey, be sure to remove all other food or objects from the sink, layer the area with paper towels and use a slow stream of water to avoid splashing.

To stuff or not to stuff

For optimal food safety, do not stuff the turkey. Even if the turkey is cooked to the correct internal temperature, the stuffing inside may not have reached a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. It is best to cook the stuffing in a separate dish.

Take the temperature of the bird

Although there are various ways to cook a turkey, the only way to avoid foodborne illness is to make sure it is cooked to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Take the bird’s temperature in three areas — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh — make sure all three locations reach 165ºF. If one of those locations does not register at 165ºF, then continue cooking until all three locations reach the correct internal temperature.

Follow the two-hour rule

Perishable foods should not be left on the table or countertops for longer than two hours. After two hours, food falls into the Danger Zone, temperatures between 40-140ºF, where bacteria can rapidly multiply. If that food is then eaten, your guests could get sick. Cut turkey into smaller slices and refrigerate along with other perishable items, such as potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Leftovers should stay safe in the refrigerator for four days.

When in doubt call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. You can also chat live at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.

CNBC reports that two more carriers, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Australia, have suspended service from an onboard catering facility in Los Angeles International Airport after it detected listeria there in a recent inspection.

Earlier this month American Airlines said it had halted deliveries from the Gate Gourmet facility after the bacteria was detected there.

Listeria, which can cause fever and diarrhea and can be fatal in some cases, was detected during a safety audit at the Los Angeles kitchen, Gate Gourmet said. The company said the traces of the bacteria were found in areas such as floor drains that do not come into contact with passenger food.

The Los Angeles airport facility is still open and operating, said Catherine Nugent, a Gate Gourmet spokeswoman.

“We can’t comment on behalf of our customers, but we remain committed to delivering a safe and efficient service,” she said.

Delta spokeswoman Catherine Sirna said the kitchen is in compliance with local and federal regulations but that the airline decided to suspend deliveries from the facility “out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our customers.”

Onboard meals will remain the same, she added.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia said, “Over the coming days there will be limited catering available on flights from Los Angeles.”

As an alternative it will offer vouchers to passengers to purchase food before the flight.

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) on Friday issued cease-and-desist orders to Udder Milk, a home delivery company that has illegally sold unpasteurized milk in New Jersey. State and federal officials are investigating to determine from which farms Udder Milk acquired its raw milk, after a North Jersey woman became ill with a rare bacterial infection.

“It is illegal in New Jersey to sell or distribute raw milk or products made from raw milk, such as yogurt, soft cheese and ice cream,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said. “People should know that, in general, unpasteurized milk may contain dangerous bacteria and those who have become ill after consuming raw milk products should immediately consult a medical professional. Pasteurized milk and dairy products bought commercially are considered safe for consumption, because they are heated to a high temperature that kills harmful bacteria.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department’s Public Health and Food Protection Program, with the cooperation of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, are investigating to determine the suppliers.

DOH was notified on Oct. 23 that a North Jersey woman tested positive for Brucella RB51 infection, and she has since recovered. It marked the second case associated with raw milk consumption confirmed in the United States this year. The Texas Department of State Health Services, with assistance from CDC, is investigating Brucella abortus RB51 exposures and illnesses connected to a dairy company in Paradise, Texas that also sells raw milk products.

Brucella bacteria are primarily passed among infected animals. While rare, people can become infected by eating or drinking contaminated raw milk products. A Brucellosis infection can cause a range of symptoms including fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. In severe cases, infections of the central nervous system or lining of the heart may occur. People who may have consumed contaminated milk should see a doctor right away. Brucella RB51 cannot be diagnosed through tests commonly used to diagnose the disease, and this strain is resistant to one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat brucellosis in people.

From 1993 through 2012, 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk were reported to CDC, resulting in 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations. Between 2012 and 2016, only three New Jersey cases were reported.

Pride & Joy Dairy, a Toppenish, Washington, raw milk dairy has surrendered its processors license, though it could regain the license by satisfying the state Department of Agriculture (WSDA) that it has found and cleaned up the source of Salmonella.

WSDA suspended the dairy’s license on October 6 after state health officials linked raw milk from Pride & Joy to two people hospitalized in January with Salmonella poisoning.

If Pride & Joy had not surrendered its license, the dairy faced having the license revoked by WSDA.

The dairy agreed that it must submit a plan for WSDA’s approval for investigating the cause of pathogens in its bottled milk and for correcting problems.

WSDA reported finding Salmonella in raw milk samples collected from the dairy in September. WSDA issued a public health alert after the dairy declined to voluntarily recall its milk.

As I said before – “For Goodness Sake – Vaccinate”

Management of Champs Rotisserie and Spirits at 20515 Mack Ave. alerted the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness to the issue.

Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food or water, or close personal contact with an infected person.

The ill employee is not working and is receiving medical care, the health department said in a news release.

Health officials say those who ate food from the restaurant on or after Oct. 20 should get a vaccine by Nov. 13 if they have not already been vaccinated. People who consumed food from the restaurant Oct. 10-30 should watch for symptoms of hepatitis A, which can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, clay colored stool, fever, chills and jaundice. Symptoms occur 15-50 days after exposure and can last for several weeks to months.

Since Aug. 1, 2016, there have been 486 cases of hepatitis A, including 19 fatalities,  identified as related to an outbreak in Southeast Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In October, health officials said they were investigating cases at Firewater Bar and Grill and a Little Caesars Pizza location in Detroit and a restaurant worker in Ann Arbor. Cases last year were linked to Whole Foods in Detroit and Social Kitchen in Birmingham, and a pizza restaurant in Alabama.

In San Diego California, the county Health and Human Services Agency published new weekly totals, which add one to the number of deaths recorded since the health crisis started in November 2016. The running tally of confirmed cases also continues to increase, reaching 536 from a previous total of 516 – including 20 deaths. On September 15th the county notified the public that a worker at World Famous restaurant in Pacific Beach had tested positive.

And, thanks to the Huffington Post, you can see the problem in the whole country:

According to the FDA, the CDC reports a total of 251 people were infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Thompson (144), Kiambu (54), Anatum (20), Agona (12), Gaminara (7), Urbana (7), Newport & Infantis (4), and Senftenberg (3), from 25 states.

Seventy-nine ill people were hospitalized. Two deaths were reported, one from New York City and one in California.

Outbreak Investigations Linked to Papayas:

So, sang John Denver – Almost.

American Airlines has temporarily stopped using a catering facility at Los Angeles International Airport after traces of the bacteria listeria, which can cause severe food poisoning, were detected in the kitchen, the company said Wednesday.

The bacteria was detected on floors and in drains during a routine inspection of the kitchen operated by Gate Gourmet, but not on surfaces that come in contact with food, according to American. There have been no reports of passengers or employees being affected by listeriosis, the illness caused by listeria.

An estimated 1,600 people get sick, and about 260 die, from listeriosis each year, usually by consuming foods contaminated with the bacteria listeria, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches and nausea or diarrhea. Pregnant women, newborns and people over age 65 are especially vulnerable.

Columbia Health officials have released the latest numbers on the Salmonella outbreak in Caldwell Parish. According to the Louisiana Dept. of Health, 125 people are now confirmed to have a gastrointestinal illness. This is up from just under 50 on Thursday afternoon. Of those cases, health officials say 37 people spent some time in the hospital.

In addition, it is reported that a second bacteria contributed to the mass food poisoning in Caldwell Parish according to Dr. Parham Jaberi, assistant state health officer. In addition to the Salmonella already found in stool samples submitted to the state, Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium commonly found on raw meat and poultry, has been identified.

Health officials say they are still working to determine whether the death of a man this week in Caldwell Parish is linked to the outbreak.

The ages of the people affected range from 15 to 72, according to Friday’s update from health officials.

The CDC suggests contacting your doctor or healthcare provider if you have:

  • Diarrhea and a fever over 101.5°F.
  • Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving.
  • Bloody stools.
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:
  • Making very little urine.
  • Dry mouth and throat.
  • Dizziness when standing up.

Epidemiologists with the Louisiana Department of Health are contacting people known to have purchased food from the fundraiser, and are asking anyone else who might have eaten the jambalaya to call (800) 256-2748.

Live 5 News reports that Investigators say a laboratory test has confirmed that a substance a man sprayed on produce at a West Ashley Harris Teeter contained human feces and E. Coli contaminates.

On Friday, law enforcement charged Pau Hang with tampering food products, and was given a $100,000 bond. This comes after he was originally given a $100,000 bond for malicious injury to personal property and a $465 bond for trespassing.

Officials identified Hang as a disgruntled, former contractor at the store on 975 Savannah Highway.

Newly released court records state a bottle that Hang used to spray produce at the Harris Teeter on Sunday tested positive for human feces and E. coli.

Additionally, investigators say Hang confessed to detectives that he sprayed the produce with a substance containing his feces and urine that he mixed in his vehicle prior to entering the business.

“The defendant continued to state that he intentionally exposed the produce with the forethought and knowledge that it would likely be purchased and consumed by Harris Teeter customers,” an affidavit read.

According to authorities, surveillance video showed the suspect spraying the contents of the bottle onto the produce and “adjacent fresh food departments.”

Court records state customers were also seen on the same video continuing to walk to and make purchases in those exposed areas of the store.

The affidavit read that the damage to the exposed produce and merchandise was initially valued at $3,000, but due to the level of exposure and the merchandise affected in conjunction with the cleanup, the total damage was estimated at nearly $100,000.

Harris Teeter released the following statement on the day of the incident:

Food safety and quality are paramount to Harris Teeter. We were extremely alarmed and disappointed to learn that today, a disgruntled, former contractor attempted to contaminate food products in the Produce department and Fresh Foods department inside our St. Andrews Shopping Center location. Our valued associates immediately took action – closing down affected departments and notifying appropriate team members. Additionally, our associates properly discarded any and all product that was exposed to contamination as well as thoroughly cleaned and sanitized affected areas.
In an abundance of caution, Harris Teeter has proactively contacted the Charleston County Department of Health. The affected departments will not re-open without the Charleston County Department of Health’s approval.

Press reports indicate that the Louisiana’s Department of Health is investigating a Salmonella outbreak in Caldwell Parish that has sickened more than 100 and may have contributed to one death. Local and state authorities trying to determine if the death of a 56-year-old man, Duane Reitzell, was connected to a mass illness.

Samantha Hartmann, press officer for the Louisiana Department of Health, said preliminary tests of samples have returned positive for Salmonella.

As of Thursday, 49 cases of a gastrointestinal illness were confirmed with 31 people hospitalized, the Department of Health reported. The ages of those with a confirmed illness range from 15 to 70.

State officials also reported Thursday samples taken from five people have tested positive for salmonella.

Sheriff Clay Bennett, who also is sick, said more than 100 residents have sought medical treatment. Bennett said workers at the sheriff’s office also fell ill Tuesday afternoon. He said employees ate jambalaya from a local softball fundraiser, but no one was certain about the origin of the illness. Bennett said the illness could have come from anything.

“Everybody is trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Drew Keahey, a Caldwell Parish farmer and president of the Tensas Basin Levee District board. “No bigger than we are, when there are 200 people in the hospital, everybody knows somebody who is sick. Keahey, a director of Homeland Bank, said more than 10 people left the bank Tuesday with sickness.

The Department of Health said in a short statement it had been “notified of a possible food-related gastrointestinal disease outbreak.” A disease surveillance specialist is investigating the incident.