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Originally published November 11, 2012 at 5:00 AM | Page modified November 11, 2012 at 7:36 AM

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Keep your Thanksgiving healthy with these food-safety tips

Thanksgiving is no time to skimp on those food-safety habits that can make or break the festivities. Here are a few reminders to keep the holiday healthy.

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Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season where friends, family and loved ones gather for one fantastic meal after another. It's not the time to skimp on those food-safety habits that can make or break the festivities. Here are some simple reminders:

Purchasing the goodies

At the market, check the quality of all the products you buy. Look at the color, firmness and texture of the produce and meats and don't forget to check the expiration dates on packaged foods. Once you pay for your groceries, be sure to get them stored in the proper place immediately — refrigerator, freezer or pantry. A few extra stops on the way home is plenty of time for bacteria to have a party on your food.

Make room for your turkey

Overcrowding your freezer or fridge can actually raise temperatures dangerously high, spoil your food and ruin your equipment.

Defrosting

Did you buy a frozen bird? Don't leave it at room temperature to defrost; that's another opportunity for bacteria to grow. Plan to defrost the turkey in the fridge a few days before you cook it.

Prepping:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly and often.

2. The longer food sits out at room temperature, the more likely food bugs can multiply. Keep food in the fridge or freezer until you need to use it.

3. Raw turkey and fresh produce don't mix — you want to keep these foods on separate surfaces and prep them using different equipment.

Cooking

First you need to decide if you're going to stuff the bird. Then you need to be sure to cook the bird for the right amount of time. This will help eliminate the majority of those pesky bacteria. For a defrosted turkey, plan on cooking it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes per pound. A fresh turkey's cooking time is 10 to 15 minutes per pound. Check the temperature of the bird in two locations to ensure that it has been thoroughly cooked to 165 degrees.

Courtesy Toby Amidor on foodnetwork.com. For more information, visit www.foodnetwork.com.

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