I just finished renewing my ServSafe course certification, which needs to be done every five years. This is a national course which mainly shows how to prevent all the food safety risks facing a food operation. One of the topics is proper time and temperature of refrigerated and frozen foods. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to give you the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Food Safety Tips for Your Holiday Turkey. Many people do not thaw or cook the turkey properly and end up making a trip to the emergency room.
All of the following information is directly from the CDC’s website. This link will also give you the proper cooking times for a stuffed or unstuffed turkey. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/holiday-turkey.html
Handling poultry (chickens and turkey) incorrectly and undercooking it are the most common problems that lead to foodborne disease outbreaks linked to poultry. Follow these four tips to help you safely prepare your next holiday turkey meal.
1. Thaw Your Turkey Safely - Thaw turkey in one of these ways: a. In the refrigerator in a container, 2. in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or 3. in the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions.
Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. A thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, its temperature becomes unsafe. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F.
2. Handle Your Turkey the Right Way - Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill—to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, family, and friends.
3. Cook Stuffing Thoroughly - Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking.
With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center reaches 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may then cause food poisoning. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, wait 20 minutes after taking the bird out of the oven before removing the stuffing; this allows it to cook a little more. Learn more about how to prepare stuffing https://tinyurl.com/y5t4brgs
4. Cook Your Turkey Thoroughly - Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F. Place the completely thawed turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should still use a food thermometer to check that it is safely cooked.
Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.
The bacteria Clostridium perfringens grows in cooked foods left at room temperature. It is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. The major symptoms are vomiting and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours after eating. 1) Clostridium perfringens outbreaks occur most often in November and December. 2) Many of these outbreaks have been linked to foods commonly served during the holidays, such as turkey and roast beef.
Refrigerate leftovers at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation to prevent food poisoning. Slice or divide big cuts of meat, such as a roast turkey, into small quantities for refrigeration so they will cool quickly. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving.
Best wishes for a great holiday season!!
Sadly, we had to end out Community Outreach Program (COP) on Thursday, October 22nd to keep our guests and volunteers safe due to reduced daylight for our 6-7pm distribution. We have enjoyed working with wonderful volunteers, donors, and all our guests since March.
This is just a temporary closure. Our new Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative Food Pantry will be located at St John the Baptist Church, Whitehall in the Christ the King school cafeteria. We are actively working on opening ASAP, but realistically the new Pantry may not open until December or January. We sincerely thank Rev. Msgr. Gerald E. Gobitas, Barbara Sukanick, and the Diocese of Allentown for believing in our mission and working with us.
Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Mission is to alleviate food insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay. As you know I sit on the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council’s Food Access Committee. Food Insecurity is going to get much worse before it gets better. Numbers are already rising in the Lehigh Valley. Our own distribution numbers were the highest ever on October 22nd.
These are the last four distribution numbers for both the Whitehall and Coplay locations combined. I am not sure why the senior numbers were down. It is possible something else came up for them on Thursday.
As an aside, when Patricia Karo, WCHI Board Secretary, and I submitted the Lehigh County Cares Grant application in September, we had already helped 1,234 people as of 8/27. Some people came once, some came until they were able to go back to work, and some come every distribution. This number is much larger now since both sites have been adding new guests since then. I haven’t updated the data since I have been busy with the pantry. We hope to hear on the grant by the end of the month - fingers crossed. We asked for physical items to start the pantry like shelving, tables, refrigerators, freezers, etc.
To all the many, many Volunteers, and Lana Snyder, Jake Hausman, Larry Weiss, Jen Dietz, and Tom Noctor (who spearheaded the pantry), THANK YOU!! I also wanted to thank all the monetary and food/toiletry product donors that helped us over the last six months. We really appreciate each and every one of you!! COP provided many items thanks to your generosity. Our guests sincerely needed and appreciated all of your donations. Second Harvest has products for us to order, but the items on our website rarely are on their list. We still need the items on our website to fill the new pantry. Donations are still being accepted. Your monetary donations should be payable to WCHI and in the memo section, please write food pantry. The food donations still can be delivered to my office at 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall, PA 18052.
The LV Food Policy Council, of which I am a member, has said many times over the summer that food insecurity (which has been enhanced by Covid-19 job losses) will increase in the fall. This has now become a reality here Thursday at our Community Outreach Program (COP). Both the Coplay and the Whitehall locations ran out of pre-bagged food for the first time since we started providing much needed food in March. Whitehall quickly prepared bags to distribute since they house our temporary pantry at their location. For the Coplay residents who did not receive food Thursday night, I delivered much appreciated food to them Friday morning.
Below are numbers from our last four food distributions. Total people and households served increased 13% last week from 9/10.
COP closes after the 10/22 distribution for the safety of our guests and volunteers. It will be dark for the 6-7pm shift and too cold for residents to wait in line. I have been looking for a new Pantry site to move our operations to a permanent location. St John’s Lutheran Church in Whitehall has been gracious to allow us to use their social hall since March.
I am very excited to inform you that St John the Baptist Catholic Church, 3024 Ruch St, and I are in discussions for WCHI to open a much needed Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative Food Pantry in the Christ the King School cafeteria to continue feeding food insecure Whitehall and Coplay residents. Though not finalized, we are moving towards a formal written agreement. The Whitehall Food Pantry, which feeds on average 15-18 households weekly, has decided to remain independents
Just as we have been working since March, moving forward many volunteers are needed to unload our truck from Second Harvest, unpack all the food donations (including the public’s generosity), sort, and repack the food in drop and go bags/boxes, and distribute the food to the residents. We are excited to be working with St. John the Baptist, but we need your help. This has just been announced to the WCHI Board on Saturday. All my Coplay volunteers want to open this food pantry and can’t wait to get their clearances. Whitehall’s volunteers and everyone on my e-mail data base have been contacted tonight.
The Catholic Diocese Of Allentown requires since we are on Church property that all our volunteers must provide the following required child abuse clearances. These are not hard to complete, FREE to you, and once completed they are good for 5 years.
If you are interested in helping WCHI move closer to opening this much-need Pantry to help food insecure Whitehall and Coplay food insecure residents, please fill out the form located here.
This week’s food items include:
Please shop at Boscov’s at the LV Mall on October 14th and 15th 9am-9pm. With their Friends Helping Friends Program, please mention Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative when you checkout and we will receive 5% on your total purchase.