USDA Puts Holiday Food Safety a Click Away

Today's Facebook chat featuring a food safety expert is one way the USDA agency will help consumers enjoy the Thanksgiving fare without discomfort.

Thanksgiving 2009 features a new Web site for consumers, www.holidayfoodsafety.org, "that puts food safety in the context of all the planning and preparation families put into their holiday celebration," the Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. The site includes food shopping and preparation tips, recipes, advice, and more.

On the site is the Holiday Food Safety Success Kit, which was developed by the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education (PSFE). The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and FDA contributed to the site.

Today at 3 p.m. Eastern, USDA will host a live Facebook chat featuring a holiday food safety expert from FSIS who will discuss safe preparation of turkey, stuffing, and other typical Thanksgiving food; members of the public can submit questions and hear live answers. For more information about the chat or to submit questions in advance, visit http://www.usda.gov/live.

The FDA hotline at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366) also answers consumers' questions about safe handling of foods such as eggs, dairy, fresh produce, and seafood. The hotline operates weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; consumers also can e-mail questions to consumer@fda.gov.

"The most critical food safety practice when preparing a whole turkey is using a food thermometer," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande. "The minimum internal temperature must reach 165 degrees F for safety."

"Foodborne bacteria never take a holiday, so it's important to be mindful this Thanksgiving of the four core safe handling messages of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill when preparing your holiday meal," said PFSE Executive Director Shelley Feist.

For more help with turkey preparation, call the USDA meat and poultry hotline, 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854), which operates weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern and will operate Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern. Consumers also can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative, who's available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov.

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