Health officials stress food safety this Thanksgiving

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) Kitchens across the east will be busy this week as families prepare their Thanksgiving feasts and to make sure those full bellies don't start to ache, the Pitt County Health Department is reminding you about food safety.

Britney Hargett, Program Specialist with the Pitt County Health Department says, "If you don't want to be in the bathroom, cool your food properly, cook your food proper and make sure you maintain hot hold and cold hold temperatures."

Experts say thermometers are key when it comes to safety. A turkey will need to reach 165 degrees in order to be safe to eat.

Hargett says, "Of they don't properly cook things listeria can grow and yes that will cause some issues, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea could happen."

Storing leftovers properly is also essential. Experts say you should discard any food that has been sitting out for more than four hours, and anything you want to keep should be wrapped up or put in a container with a lid.

Hargett says, "If you do those things you'll be great."

Those leftovers are safe in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but after that they should be thrown away.

Another big thing the department wanted to emphasize was that you should not put a frozen turkey out on your counter. Instead they say you should let the bird defrost for a day or two in your refrigerator.

And of course anyone working in the kitchen this holiday will want to make sure they thoroughly wash their hands before touching any food.