Health Unit: Protect Your Flock This Thanksgiving!

September 26, 2018

How good are you at protecting your flock when preparing Thanksgiving meals?

A recent Health Canada survey found that Canadians need to pay more attention to safe food handling behaviour do’s and don’ts:

  • Do wash reusable shopping bags.
  • Don’t wash your poultry; that only spreads the bacteria.
  • Do thaw meat and seafood in the fridge, not on the counter.
  • Do thoroughly cook frozen, breaded poultry products.

Not following the above do’s and don’ts can result in foodborne illness. Groups especially at risk of foodborne illness include pregnant women, young children and seniors.

“Family Thanksgiving dinners are important events, and it’s just as important to keep your family safe from foodborne illness,” says Jessica Van Geffen, Public Health Inspector.

Reusable grocery bags and bins can collect harmful bacteria from foods. These bacteria can also contaminate other foods or items in the bags/bins and put you at risk of food poisoning. Ensure that you thoroughly wash bags/bins before using them for groceries if they’ve been used to carry non-food items and after using them to carry fresh produce, meat, poultry, and seafood.

Raw poultry may have bacteria on it. Never rinse poultry, because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a hazard. Keep raw poultry away from other food while shopping, storing, repackaging, cooking and serving foods.

Van Geffen recommends storing turkey in a refrigerator at 4° C or lower, or a freezer, immediately after it is purchased.

“Thawing your turkey in the refrigerator takes time but is the safest way to thaw,” she says. “It should take one day of thawing for every 1.8 kg (4 lbs.) of turkey.”

Frozen, raw, breaded chicken products such as nuggets, strips, burgers or fries may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but should be handled and prepared no differently from other raw poultry products. Follow the cooking instructions on the package and wash your hands after handling them. Do not use plates, cutting boards or utensils that were used with frozen, raw breaded chicken products to serve the cooked product.

Huron County residents can learn more about food safety and “protecting their flock” through an upcoming social media contest on the Huron County Health Unit Facebook page.

More information on food safety can be found on the Health Unit website,


For more information contact:

Rita Marshall, Communications Coordinator
519.482.3416 (ext 2023)
Our Spokesperson is: Jessica Van Geffen, Public Health Inspector. Our media contact will connect you to our spokesperson on this topic.