NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 46 million turkeys will be cooked this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the National Turkey Federation. In an effort to help protect Americans from foodborne illness during the Thanksgiving season, the Ad Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with Food Network Star's Martie Duncan, are helping to dispel many of the common myths surrounding the preparation and serving of the holiday turkey meal.
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Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is a serious public health threat in the U.S. The CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Serious illness can result from several commonly-held time-saving practices pertaining to the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal, such as: stuffing the turkey the night before; thawing the bird on the counter; and assuming that a turkey is done by appearance rather than by using a thermometer. These actions can endanger families by promoting the growth of harmful bacteria.For information and tips on preparing the Thanksgiving meal safely, consumers are encouraged to visit FoodSafety.gov or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Families can also access " Ask Karen," an online database of answers to specific questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses available 24/7. " Thanksgiving is all about family, food and traditions, but some common cooking practices, like using the color of turkey and juices to indicate doneness, can lead to foodborne illness," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. "Making sure consumers know the best ways to protect themselves and their families from food poisoning is an essential part of our jobs, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of our food safety resources at Thanksgiving and throughout the year." TV personality and home entertaining expert Martie Duncan joins the Food Safe Families campaign to offer meal preparation tips and demonstrate safe food practices. Ms. Duncan was a finalist on Season 8 of Food Network Star. She produces a featured web series on MyRecipes.com and writes about food, recipes and entertaining for her own website, www.MartieKnowsParties.com. "The last thing anybody wants at a holiday gathering is to serve unsafe food, but sometimes we may not realize that's what we're doing," said Martie Duncan. "Being aware of USDA recommendations for serving temperatures will help ensure safe and happy holidays."