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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With Thanksgiving upon us, the USDA has some food tips and reminders to keep guests safe and healthy. Here are the top tips to “Share the Love, not the Bacteria.”

One of the most important things to ensure a safe meal is to plan ahead. Know how many guests are eating and what foods can be prepared in advance of the big day. Know what food guests are bringing and be prepared to either refrigerate or heat up that food when guests arrive.

Some preparation tips:

  • Most of the food can be prepared 3-4 days in advance.
  • Don’t overfill the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.
  • Start with a clean kitchen to avoid contamination. Bacteria has been shown to survive on countertops and other kitchen surfaces for up to 32 hours.

USDA researchers found that 97 percent of participants failed to properly wash their hands before cooking. You should always wash your hands before cooking, to eliminate the spread of bacteria.

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Some cooking tips:

  • Reheat all cooked foods to an internal temperature of 165°F before serving.
  • Keep food hot with warming trays so everything is ready at the same time.
  • All poultry and turkey should be heated to an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Eighty-eight percent of study participants failed to properly heat meat.
  • All food should remain at 140°F throughout the meal to a safe temperature.
  •  If food was left out at room temperature for two hours or more, the leftovers should be discarded.

To talk to a food safety expert, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.