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Northern Health held a media conference this week to go over importance of food safety and healthy choices over Thanksgiving. Loraina Stephen, a registered dietician who was a part of the event said there are many healthy aspects as part of a Thanksgiving meal.

“Thanksgiving meals can be very nutritious. A meal with turkey or ham, a variety of vegetables, buns or stuffing, and a dessert has a great chance to have all four food groups from Canada’s food guide which is how we define a balanced meal,” she said.

Despite that Stephen did offer up suggestions to make meals even more healthy including serving yams along with, or instead of potatoes, using whole wheat bread in stuffing and adding chopped apricots, carrots, or zucchini.

In terms of desserts she brought up ideas that use fruit and yogurt, such as a fruit salad or yogurt parfait.

Environmental Health Officer Daisy Tam discussed the need to ensure safe cooking and preparation of a turkey to avoid salmonella contamination.

If turkeys are bought fresh they need to be refrigerated at four degrees Celsius, or 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Turkeys should be cooked within two or three days of purchase. If thawing the turkey should be done in a fridge, putting the turkey under cold running water, or keeping it in an insulated bag.

It typically takes an hour per pound to thaw the turkey according to Tam.

It’s advised when it comes to checking if the turkey is done to use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature. The turkey and stuffing must be at least 75 degrees Celsius, or 167 degrees Fahrenheit. If running out of time it was suggested to remove the stuffing.

The goal of the cooking and preparation tips is to avoid bacteria growth and cross contamination.

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