Food Safety Summit Food not Safe

According to Food Safety News website, 216 people who attended a Food Safety Summit in Baltimore this past spring were poisoned by the food served at that summit.

The report that was just released by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has determined that it was the chicken that was contaminated with Clostridium perfringens. Those who ate the chicken ended up with symptoms that ranged from diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting.

While, in defense of the Food Safety Summit, this is the first time in its 16-year history anyone has contracted food poisoning, this incident is, nonetheless the definition of irony.


Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving Day is a special time of year when family and friends gather to express gratitude. Many anticipate the delicious foods traditionally served, especially the turkey. Improperly prepared and cooked turkey can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria and can cause food poisoning. Common symptoms of food poisoning include fever, headache, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. Follow these tips to keep your Thanksgiving turkey safe from bacteria!

 Choosing a Turkey

  • Ensure that the packaging is intact and is free of rips and tears that could expose the bird to outside bacteria and germs.

Turkey Preparation


  • Defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or a cold water bath.
  • Allow one day of thawing for every 5 lbs of turkey.  If using a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.       
  • Keep utensils, dishes, kitchen equipment and work surfaces clean.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling a turkey.


  • Defrost a turkey on the counter at room temperature.
  • Refreeze a thawed turkey.
  • Use cutting boards and knives that have touched raw meat or other foods without washing them first.

Never thaw a turkey at room temperature because this promotes the growth of dangerous bacteria.  The safest way to thaw a turkey is to thaw it in the refrigerator.  You should do this with the turkey still in its own unopened wrapper breast facing up and placed on a tray.  The accepted rule of thumb for time is 1 day refrigerator thawing for every four to five pounds of turkey. Thawing in cold water is also acceptable.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds

4 to 12 pounds

1 to 3 days

12 to 16 pounds

3 to 4 days

16 to 20 pounds

4 to 5 days

20 to 24 pounds

5 to 6 days


In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound

4 to 12 pounds

2 to 6 hours

12 to 16 pounds

6 to 8 hours

16 to 20 pounds

8 to 10 hours

20 to 24 pounds

10 to 12 hours

More Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven and avoid those grease fires now.

Keep the kitchen off-limits to young children and adults that are not helping with food preparations to lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.

When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry.  The clothing can catch on fire and the jewelry can catch on pot handles, causing spills and burns.

Cook on the back burners when possible and turn pot handles in so they don’t extend over the edge of the stove.

Never leave cooking unattended.  If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked.

Keep Thanksgiving decorations and kitchen clutter away from sources of direct heat.

Watch those knives in your silverware drawers, just don’t reach in and grab, you may get sliced.


A 2 1/2 lb. class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended.  Know how to use your fire extinguisher.


Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke detector on every level of the house, in every bedroom, and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms.  Overnight guests should be instructed on the fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your home. 


Immediately wash hands, utensils, equipment and surfaces that have come in contact with raw turkey.

Other hazards at the Thanksgiving table this year could be the decorations. The comforting glow of candles around the home may invoke the warm holiday spirit, but they are a significant fire hazard. If you choose to set the mood with candles, never leave them burning unattended. Take extra care to supervise children (and pets) if candles grace your holiday table and extinguish them when you leave the room, even for a minute.

Choking is another prevalent hazard at Thanksgiving. Appetizers, including those containing relishes, raw vegetables, olives, grapes, nuts and cheese cubes, can be dangerous for young children who may not be able to chew them adequately. Keep these nibblers out of their reach, unless supervised by an adult, to prevent choking.

Children get just as excited about the Thanksgiving meal as adults do. When you stick those kids at the kiddies table, cut their food for them into small, chewable pieces, key an eye on them and remind them often to chew their food thoroughly.

Because a main cause of choking is poorly chewed food, be sure to take your time and chew every bite thoroughly. Hors d’oeuvre and other bite-sized foods pose a choking hazard for adults as well as children because they can easily be swallowed whole and become lodged in the throat.

If someone does choke, the universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn’t give the signal, look for these indications:

  • Inability to talk
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Inability to cough forcefully
  • Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
  • Loss of consciousness

If choking is occurring, the American Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach to delivering first aid:

  • First, deliver five back blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Next, perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).
  • Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.

If you’re the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 (or your local emergency number) for help. If another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on someone else:

  • Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.
  • Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person’s navel with thumb toward the navel.
  • Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.
  • Perform a total of five abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn’t dislodged, repeat the “five-and-five” cycle.

If you’re alone and choking, you’ll be unable to effectively deliver back blows to yourself. However, you can still perform abdominal thrusts to dislodge the item.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on yourself:

  • Place a fist slightly above your navel.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand and bend over a hard surface — a countertop or chair will do.
  • Shove your fist inward and upward.

Clearing the airway of a pregnant woman, a person in a wheelchair or large person:

  • Position your hands a little bit higher than with a normal Heimlich maneuver, at the base of the breastbone, just above the joining of the lowest ribs.  Make sure you are above the tip of the breastbone (Xyphoid) you may cause injury if you don’t.
  • Proceed as with the Heimlich maneuver, pressing hard into the chest, with a quick thrust.
  • Repeat until the food or other blockage is dislodged or the person becomes unconscious.

Clearing the airway of a choking infant younger than age 1:

  • Assume a seated position and hold the infant face down on your forearm, which is resting on your thigh.
  • Thump the infant gently but firmly five times on the middle of the back using the heel of your hand. The combination of gravity and the back blows should release the blocking object.
  • Hold the infant face up on your forearm with the head lower than the trunk if the above doesn’t work. Using two to three fingers placed at the center of the infant’s breastbone, give five quick chest compressions.
  • Repeat the back blows and chest thrusts if breathing doesn’t resume. Call for emergency medical help or 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Begin infant CPR if one of these techniques opens the airway but the infant doesn’t resume breathing.

To prepare yourself for these situations, learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR in a certified first-aid training course.
The next CPR/First Aid training class will be held at Plateau Learning Center on Dec 20th.

Lastly, make sure you poultry or ham is thoroughly cooked. If you have questions about how long to cook your turkey or ham this holiday you can contact any of the following agencies:

USDA Poultry Hotline (1-800) 535-4555 or website

Recorded messages 24 hours a day. Home economists and registered dietitians available to answer questions 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Special Thanksgiving Day hours 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Butterball Turkey Talk Line: (1-800) 323-4848

Honey Baked Ham Consumer Hotline: (1-800) 641-8290

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Information provided by USDA, Butterball Turkey Talk line, Honey Baked Ham Consumer line and American Red Cross

I’m no vacation this week so all posts this week are courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau