AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – While some are just beginning to prepare the big holiday meal, others started already. So we decided to check in with local environmental safety experts to see the best ways to prepare, serve and store your food without getting ill.

“They might not wash their hands as much, they might not be thinking about temperatures as much, whether that be holding the food at the right temperature or whether that be cooking the food to the right temperature,” said Jasmine Anderson, Food Program Manager, Richmond County Health Department.

Thanksgiving. The holiday where many Americans become five star chefs. While preparing your meal for family and friends may be tradition, you might want to think about ways to safely do it and avoid foodborne illnesses.

Family Consumer Sciences Agent with UGA Extension Richmond County Emma Poston told us, “As long as you cook it to the proper temperature, you let it cool down properly, and you reheat it properly then it should be safe to eat.”

And while you enjoy that delicious meal , health experts warn if you are expecting the food to serve as leftovers, put it away.

“After you’re done cooking it and everybody is eating and it’s time to put the food away, not everyone knows that if it’s been out for four hours it really should be discarded,” Anderson warned.

And even though it tastes oh so good, there’s actually a limit on how long you should consume your Thanksgiving meal. At the UGA Extension, Poston said their motto is when in doubt, throw it out.

She said, “Seven days is the maximum. When we teach food service, food safety, that is the maximum things can be stored properly and they’re not past their expiration date. There may be some dishes that won’t quite make seven days.”

And Poston added before you cook that show stopping bird, store it correctly.

“You want to make sure if you’ve got a raw turkey it’s going to be at the very bottom of your refrigerator so you don’t have to worry about any of the juices dripping down and contaminating your other foods,” said Poston.