ST. CLOUD -- Don't forget about food safety when you're preparing holiday meals this season. That's the advice of health officials who say food-borne illnesses can become a problem if you're not careful.

Debbie Botzek-Linn is a Food Safety Specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension Office. She says you should clean and sanitize counter tops and cutting boards, wash your hands before starting and after handling raw meat and properly thaw your turkey in a refrigerator or cold water.

She also says don't forget to put leftovers back in the refrigerator when you're done eating.  The rule-of-thumb is that leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of your meal.  Botzek-Linn says you should break-down your leftovers by removing turkey meat from the carcass and using separate containers.

Botzek-Linn also says remember to thoroughly cook your turkey to 165-degrees and make sure you aren't cross-contaminating cutting boards and cookware.