(AscendHealthy.com) – It’s that time of year again when the smell of roasted turkey and stuffing fills the home and loved ones gather to share in the spirit of togetherness and gratitude. We each have our own traditions, but we might also share in a few bad habits that could put all of us at risk.
Health hazards can crop up at any time of the year, but a few issues can move to the forefront when large gatherings and food become involved. Here are the five biggest Thanksgiving risks to watch out for.
Avoid These 5 Thanksgiving Risks.
1. Improperly Prepared Food
The spread can look incredible, but any given item could be harboring all kinds of dangerous bacteria. Inadequately cooked turkey, mishandled veggies and even stuffing can add invisible dangers to the dinner table. The CDC recommends taking the following precautions to keep Thanksgiving dinner safe:
- Thaw frozen turkeys thoroughly in the refrigerator or a cold water bath. Alternatively, use a microwave and strictly follow the manufacturer’s thawing instructions. Never attempt to thaw a turkey at room temperature.
- Wash all surfaces that come into contact with raw turkey. Don’t forget countertops, cutting boards and hands. Bacteria can easily transfer from one surface to another, leading to cross-contamination.
- Don’t leave the turkey out for too long. Whether it’s raw or cooked, never let the turkey sit between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for longer than 2 hours.
- Cook both turkey and stuffing thoroughly. If either has any spots that haven’t reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, disease-causing bacteria may have survived.
- Move leftovers to the refrigerator as soon as they have cooled. Bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature. Always reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.
2. Fire Hazards
At least one person dies each year in a Thanksgiving-related fire. This holiday sees more kitchen fires than any other day annually.
Deep-fried turkey is a major culprit, according to the US Fire Administration. Overfilled pots can spill oil or tip over when the bird goes in, and the results are often disastrous. Turkeys that aren’t 100% defrosted will cause the oil to splatter up — and sometimes the fryers themselves get so hot that they explode. Unless the person preparing dinner is experienced in deep-frying whole turkeys, an oven roast is a safer option.
3. Risky Layouts
There’s something magical about overlooking a full display of food across the table — piping hot turkey, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, stuffing, gravy and all the other fixings — and sharing that bounty with others. However, leaving food out and uncovered can leave it open to contamination in some unexpected ways. House flies, capable of quickly spreading disease-causing bacteria like E. coli, can pose a particularly stealthy threat.
4. Germ Spreaders
Most of us have at least one — that family member who coughs habitually without bothering to cover their mouth or brings their sniffling toddler, despite the green stuff bubbling out of the kid’s nose. If that special someone ends up at the local gathering, be prepared to catch whatever they’re spreading. Especially with COVID-19 in full swing, it might be best to keep the notorious germ spreaders off the guest list.
Healthline warns that overeating can cause nausea and indigestion. The Lung Health Institute adds that people with COPD may find themselves breathing harder after overeating due to the increased energy the body requires to digest so much food. No matter how high that plate is piled up, make sure to eat slowly and chew all food thoroughly. Remember, there will be plenty of leftovers to enjoy later.
Thanksgiving should be as worry-free as possible. Friends and family deserve to enjoy good company and delicious food, but not at the cost of anyone’s safety. Avoid unnecessary risks to ensure everyone has a great time and leaves as healthy as they came.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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