“If you happen to consume undercooked or contaminated turkeys, you could become very ill,” says Environmental Health Officer Neelam Hayer. “People who are more prone to the illness generally include young children, elderly and those who are immunocompromised, therefore, it’s very important to eliminate any potential risks that can trigger illness in your family.”

Hayer adds, “The key is to prevent temperature abuse and any cross-contamination.”

For example, according to Hayer, fresh/uncooked turkey should be stored in the refrigerator and cooked within two -three days of purchase. Also when thawing, Hayer recommends it be done in temperatures no higher than 4 C (39 F).

“Some options for doing that include, doing it in the refrigerator or potentially under cold, running water,” Hayer detailed while cautioning against splash back – explaining the potential of it contaminating anything within a three feet radius.

Before serving your turkey, Hayer insists you ensure the internal temperature is at least 75 C (167 F) before serving.

Making wise choices for your holiday menu

Registered Dietitian Marianne Bloudoff says the holiday season does offer the opportunity for health eating – if it’s done appropriately.

“A meal of ham or turkey, vegetables, buns or stuffing, and a dessert have a good chance of having three or four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide – making it a balanced meal,” Bloudoff said.

In order to change from a ‘good chance’ to a ‘great chance’, Bloudoff has a handful of helpful suggestions.

“Offer sweet potatoes instead of, or along side white potatoes; include other colourful veggies like carrots, Brussels sprouts and beats; boast up the stuffing by using bread, adding cranberries or chopped apples, walnuts an finally chopped carrots; consider a dessert that includes fruit or dairy such as a fruit crumble or milk-based pudding,” Bloudoff explained.

Boudoff is also reminding holiday-goers that the season is not necessary about stuffing your face until a button pops, but rather absorbing the time spend with family, friends, and loved-ones.