Health and Fitness

Avoid Foodborne Illness This Holiday Season

CHICAGO –-(ENEWSPF)–November 25, 2014.  The season for family gatherings and festive meals is here, and with that comes the potential for foodborne illnesses, if the foods are not properly prepared and handled.  Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck offers this helpful advice to avoid getting sick:

“You should make sure your meats, including your Thanksgiving turkey, are completely thawed before you cook them.  As you plan your meal, consider how much time you’ll need to thaw and cook your meats, and keep raw meat and poultry separate from food that’s ready to eat.” 

If your turkey is thawed on the outside, but still frozen inside, you won’t be able to cook it to the appropriate 165° Fahrenheit temperature, which is needed to kill disease-causing bacteria.  In addition, many foodborne outbreaks result from food being contaminated during preparation or when it’s being served by unwashed or improperly washed hands. So keep your hands clean.

The following grid shows the approximate times needed to properly thaw and cook a turkey based on its size.

Turkey Size

In the Refrigerator
(Approximately 24 hours
for every 4-5 lbs.)

In Cold Water
(Approximately 30
minutes per lb.)

Cooking Times                325° Fahrenheit Unstuffed

4 to 12 pounds

1 to 3 days

2 to 6 hours

1 ½ to 3 hours

12 to 16 pounds

3 to 4 days

6 to 8 hours

3 to 4 hours

16 to 20 pounds

4 to 5 days

8 to 10 hours

4 to 4 ½ hours

20 to 24 pounds

5 to 6 days

10 to 12 hours

4 ½ to 5 hours

Symptoms of foodborne illness may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or abdominal pain.  While people most often get sick within four to 48 hours after eating bad food, foodborne illness can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after eating the contaminated food.  Find more information about food safety at