SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — As families prepare for their Thanksgiving feast, the Illinois Department of Public Health is warning anyone cooking to follow food safety advice that will keep their loved ones healthy.

“All of us at IDPH wish our fellow Illinoisans a happy, festive and safe Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” IDPH Director Sameer Vohra said. “As we enjoy food, family, and friends, I want to remind everybody that we can prevent unhappy holiday outcomes by following proven food safety guidelines such as thawing frozen turkeys in the fridge and making sure the turkey and stuffing are thoroughly cooked to a safe temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.”

The CDC advises anyone cooking a turkey to thaw it in the refrigerator. It takes 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of turkey in a fridge. If someone doesn’t have fridge space, thawing in a microwave or in a sink of cold water while changing it every 30 minutes also is safe.

CDC officials recommend four key concepts of food safety to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, before, during and after cooking and preparing food, especially after handling raw turkey or other meat.
  • Keep separate any utensils, cutting boards, or dishes that touch raw meat, as its juices can contaminate anything it touches. Wash any utensils, dishes, cutting boards and counter tops with warm soapy water after using raw meat.
  • Cook all food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To check if turkey is all the way cooked, use a food thermometer to check the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing. To see if stuffing is cooked, test the center of the stuffing.
  • Refrigerate or freeze food after being out in room temperature for two hours. Leftovers should be good for four days after. Make sure to reheat all leftovers 165 degrees before serving or eating.

Officials also advise hosts to keep gathering spaces well-ventilated, hands washed and sneezes and coughs covered to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. If someone is feeling the symptoms of a respiratory virus, they recommend getting tested and staying home if sick.

Some common symptoms of foodborne illness include vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms. Symptoms can start hours to days after food consumption can last between a few hours or a few days. Foodborne illnesses can turn severe or even life-threatening for older adults, infants young children, pregnant people and anyone with a weakened immune system.

More food safety advice can be found on IDPH’s website.