With Thanksgiving here and thoughts having turned to turkey, the BC Centre for Disease Control is reminding all home chefs to thoroughly cook their turkey to avoid salmonella.

“Not properly cooking poultry increases the risk of illness for those who handle or eat it,” said epidemiologist, Marsha Taylor. “Salmonellosis is serious and it can ruin any Thanksgiving dinner, so remember to fully cook your turkey dinner and use a meat thermometer to ensure it is safe to eat.”

Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74 Celsius or hotter to prevent sickness caused by Salmonella, a type of bacteria often found in poultry products, including chickens, eggs, and turkey. Use a probe tip food thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature by inserting it into the breast or the inner thigh.

“It is important to remember raw juices from poultry can easily spread to surfaces from the sink if the meat is rinsed,” said food safety specialist Lorraine McIntyre. “Instead of rinsing, pat the turkey dry with paper towels and then discard the towels into the compost to help prevent cross-contamination.”

Taylor says symptoms of salmonella include gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and nausea. Other symptoms can include a fever.

Symptoms appear quickly and usually pass on their own after about four days.