Newswise — Thanksgiving is an opportunity to share a meal with loved ones, but it is also a time when small mistakes in the kitchen can lead to foodborne illness. Dr. Ben Chapman, food safety specialist and assistant professor of food science at North Carolina State University, can offer suggestions to ensure your Thanksgiving meal is a safe one.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million Americans have foodborne illness annually, leading to approximately 5,000 deaths each year, and Chapman notes that holiday turkey meals have been linked to outbreaks of bacterial diseases caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter.

“The biggest risk comes from undercooking,” Chapman says. “Color is not an indicator of safety or doneness. We see suggestions in recipes about making sure ‘the juices run clear,” but that’s a myth. You also have to worry about cross-contamination – which can happen when countertops, sinks or utensils aren’t being cleaned properly between use with raw meats and other foods.”

More information on food safety is also available online at