GOLD CANYON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Carla Jenkins is like a lot of home cooks, getting a head start on Thanksgiving dinner.

"There is a lot of pressure cooking for so many people," Jenkins said. "I'm not the best cook, but I love to have family around; that's what it's all about."

[WATCH: The 4 most common mistakes]

The last thing the Gold Canyon mom wants is for any of her guests to get sick to their stomachs. That's why Erica Velasquez, a Maricopa County health inspector, stopped by Jenkins' home Wednesday to give her a crash course in food safety.

Velasquez says many of the rules professional chefs follow also apply here. Cross-contamination is one of the biggest problems.

"Cooked foods shouldn't have the same bacteria [as raw foods]," she explained. "Green bean casserole is not going to have potentially salmonella bacteria, that turkey may have. So, when it's raw and if you touch it and touch other foods, you can transmit bacteria and make people really sick."

Whether you're cooking for two or 42 this Thanksgiving, you want to avoid these four common mistakes.

• Handling raw turkey, and then not washing hands

• Not cooking the turkey to 165 degrees 

• Leaving food out longer than four hours.

• Not cleaning utensils and counters

"When you start inviting friends, you need to make sure you are on your game," Jenkins said. "Definitely, any tips I can get would be fantastic."

[MORE: Dirty Dining]

Health inspectors don't usually make house calls, but Velasquez wanted to help spread the message about food safety. CLICK HERE for more food safety information.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 


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