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Pennsylvania Agriculture Department Encourages Proper Food Handling, Offers Safety Tips for Thanksgiving

Acting Secretary Encourages Use of PA Preferred Products in Holiday Meals

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To ensure that your family has a safe Thanksgiving meal this year, acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding is urging residents to follow a few basic food safety steps when preparing dinner and handling leftovers.

"Following and understanding proper food handling and preparation guidelines is a critical step in making sure your Thanksgiving dinner is safe to eat," said Redding. "Ignoring the importance of food safety could turn a joyous holiday celebration with family and guests into an unpleasant experience."

Redding offered the following food safety tips:

  • Keep hands, clothing and food surfaces clean during food preparation.
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water and dry them thoroughly before and after handling food.
  • Use separate cutting boards, platters, trays and utensils for cooked and uncooked meat, fish and poultry.
  • Defrost turkeys in the refrigerator, in cool running water, or in the microwave.
  • Cook stuffing/dressing outside of the turkey cavity. The center of the bird should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Never leave cooked food un-refrigerated for longer than two hours.

Governor Edward G. Rendell has made food safety a priority in Pennsylvania. In 2008, the Governor established the Strategy for Agriculture and Food Excellence, or SAFE, initiative between the departments of Agriculture and Health and the Emergency Management Agency. SAFE addresses threats to the safety and security of Pennsylvania's food supply.

This year, the Governor formed a Food Safety Council to provide better oversight of Pennsylvania's food supply from the field to the fork. The secretaries of Agriculture and Health chair the council, which consists of representatives from the General Assembly, members of the public, local health departments, emergency management, the food processing and retail industries, agricultural producers and others.

Redding also recommended using PA Preferred products to prepare your Thanksgiving feast. All PA Preferred products have to meet strict food safety and quality standards to be in the program.

"When you purchase PA Preferred products, you support one of our 63,000 Pennsylvania farm families and are assured of receiving high-quality food," Redding added.

For more information about agriculture in Pennsylvania, visit

Media contact: Justin Fleming, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

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