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Top Thanksgiving food safety tips

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 5:59 PM

Does Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated meals of the year, so make it memorable for the right reasons. Thanksgiving food safety guidelines include tips on proper storage, food preparation and temperature recommendations and will prevent your guests from ending up with food poisoning.

Follow these Thanksgiving food safety tips from the United States Department of Agriculture from the first trip to the grocery store to the final serving of leftovers. 

Buying a turkey: If you are going to serve a fresh turkey, buy it no more than two days before Thanksgiving. Keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it, on a tray that can catch any juices that may leak.

Thawing the turkey: The USDA recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator, but you'll need plenty of time since refrigerator thawing requires 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. You can also resort to the microwave, following the manual's instructions very carefully, or the cold water method, which takes 30 minutes per pound.

"Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter," the CDC warns. "A frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, but a thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature.”

Be sure to remove the giblets after thawing and before cooking, and to cook the thawed turkey immediately if you defrost it using the microwave.

Cooking a turkey: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food you’re preparing to prevent infection or illness spread. But don't wash the turkey! That only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods and use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to handle raw turkey.

Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, using a food thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.

Practice safe stuffing: Even if a stuffed bird is a family tradition, the safest way to avoid food poisoning is to cook stuffing outside of the turkey in a separate casserole dish, where you can make sure it is cooked to a temperature of 165°F at its center (use a meat thermometer to check.)

If you choose to stuff your turkey, noted the USDA, you can still prepare the ingredients ahead of time, but you should keep wet and dry ingredients separate and chill the wet ones. Add the wet ingredients to the dry right before filling the turkey cavities and cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to assure the center of the stuffing cooks to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
 
The right way to handle Thanksgiving leftovers

For many foodies, Thanksgiving leftovers are the best part of the meal. They'll make gourmet renditions like crispy mashed potato and stuffing patties. But even if you just microwave green bean casserole and put together turkey sandwiches, the proper handling of leftovers is an important part of Thanksgiving food safety.

"Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that grow in cooked foods left at room temperature," the CDC notes. "It is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. Symptoms can include vomiting and abdominal cramps within six to 24 hours after eating."

To prevent food poisoning from leftovers, follow this advice from the USDA :

  • Get leftovers into a refrigerator within two hours to keep bacteria from growing on the food.
  • Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers so they'll cool faster and spend less time at the unsafe temperatures between 40 °F to 140 °F.
  • Never store stuffing inside a leftover turkey; store meat and stuffing separately.
  • Don't eat leftovers that have been in the refrigerator more than three or four days. Consider Tuesday as the toss date. Freeze leftover turkey up to four months, the USDA recommends.
  • Discard turkey, stuffing or gravy that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, or more than an hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
  • Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.


For more information about food safety (in English and Spanish), call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. It's available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

 

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

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Valentine’s Day takes on special meaning for parents of hospitalized babies

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:02 AM

NICU Babies Warming Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hospitalized babies can pull at the heart strings of even the most courageous among us.

When babies are sick or born prematurely, the families of these children are under enormous emotional and, often, financial pressure.

>> Read more trending news

Some 380,000 babies, or one in every 10, are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States every year, the March of Dimes estimated. Most end up in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the March of Dimes said.

In Kansas City, Missouri the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital is aware of the hardships parents face when their babies are hospitalized. That’s why they planned a special Valentine’s Day celebration in recent years.

Related: Valentine's Day: List ranks some of the nation's best places to celebrate

The staff and volunteers, calling it a “special celebration of love,” assembled tiny knit caps with hearts that each baby in their care will wear for a special Valentine’s Day photo shoot. They’re also making baby footprint valentines for the parents.

“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” March of Dimes NICU Family Support coordinator, Rebecca Keunen said in a press release.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  

The nonprofit developed the NICU Family Support program to help families while their babies are in the intensive care unit, but even when these babies leave the hospital, they often face serious health challenges. The March of Dimes said these children are at higher risks for lifelong disabilities, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that focuses on pregnancy, baby health and conducts research into premature births.
   

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What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:24 AM

WATCH: Origin of Earth Day

Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events.

But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know:

>> Read more trending news 

1. When did Earth Day start?

The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 million people across the country came out in support of environmental reform.

"That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America," Gaylord Nelson wrote in the April 1980 edition of the EPA Journal. "It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.

"It showed political and opinion leadership of the country that the people cared, that they were ready for political action, that the politicians had better get ready, too. In short, Earth Day launched the environmental decade with a bang."

Since then, celebrations have only grown. This year, organizers estimate more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in events the world over. The day is celebrated each year on April 22.

>> Target’s Earth Day car seat recycling program offers 20 percent off new car seat, stroller

2. Is there a theme for Earth Day 2018?

This year, organizers are focusing on curbing plastic pollution.

"Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics," the Earth Day Network, which partners with tens of thousands of organizations in 192 countries to organize Earth Day events, said on its website.

The organization also said it "will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems."

Read more here.

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3. How are people celebrating?

In Tokyo, thousands of people will attend beach cleanups, concerts, art exhibits, classes and other events coordinated by the Green Room Festival, according to the Earth Day Network. In India's Karnataka state, a "no plastic" event will feature workshops led by "organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power and zero-waste living," the network said. Cleanups also were scheduled in Palm Beach, Florida; New York; New Jersey and other locations across the United States and worldwide.

Read more here.

4. What are businesses doing?

Google marked Earth Day with a "video doodle" featuring primatologist Jane Goodall. 

>> Click here to watch

“It is so important in the world today that we feel hopeful and do our part to protect life on Earth," Goodall said. "I am hopeful that this Earth Day Google Doodle will live as a reminder for people across the globe that there is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help protect species and their environments. And there are so, so many young people, like those in JGI’s Roots & Shoots program, dedicated to making this a better world. With all of us working together, I am hopeful that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part for this beautiful planet.”

Read more about the doodle here.

Apple also joined in on the celebrations, announcing on April 19 that "for every device received at Apple stores and apple.com through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the nonprofit Conservation International."

In addition, Apple "debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials," according to a company press release.

“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, said in a statement. “In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”

Read more here.

>> Tips for celebrating the 20th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom

5. How can I get involved?

There are multiple ways to get into the Earth Day spirit, from participating in a local event to changing your bills from paper to paperless. Here are some suggestions from the Earth Day Network:
  • Urge your local elected officials or businesses to make a substantial tree planting commitment by starting a letter-writing campaign or online petition.

  • Lead a recycling drive to collect as much plastic, metal, and glass as possible.

  • Pick up trash at a local park or beach.

  • Set up a screening of an environmentally themed movie. Consider supplementing the screening with a speaker who can lead a Q&A following the film.

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