As Americans enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal, USDA says taking the necessary steps toward safe food handling and sanitation will help protect you and your loved ones. The USDA is offering food safety advice to help reduce foodborne illness, including on Thanksgiving Day. “Our data shows that consumers can reduce their likelihood of foodborne illness by focusing on good hand hygiene and other food safety practices,” says Dr. Mindy Brashears, USDA’s Undersecretary for Food Safety. “As home chefs around the country prepare their Thanksgiving meals, proper handwashing, and avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen are critical to keeping your loved ones safe.” The first step is likely the most obvious, which is washing your hands. Wash them before, during, and after preparing food, especially if it’s raw meat or poultry. Thawing turkeys should never be done on the counter or in hot water, and they must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. The best method for thawing is in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to cook your stuffing outside the turkey to avoid cross-contamination risk. Chat with a live food safety expert at ask.udsda.gov for more tips.