CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Health officials are offering the secret ingredient for every holiday meal: Food safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 48 million people a year get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

“While most healthy people who become sick with a foodborne illness, typically called food poisoning, will get better without seeing a doctor, others can experience severe illnesses,” said Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “By taking a few simple precautions, you can help protect yourself and those around you from an unhappy holiday.”

To make sure foodborne illness is not on the menu at holiday parties this year, IDPH has provided four food safety steps. 

1. Clean – wash hands, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops before and after preparing each food item.

2. Separate – keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from foods that will not be cooked.

3. Cook – use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are fully cooked. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165?F.

4. Chill – divide leftovers into shallow containers and refrigerate them within two hours. Use leftovers within three to four days.

When perishable food sits at room temperature, it is resting in a temperature range where bacteria love to multiply. This range, between 40-140°F, is known as the ‘danger zone.’ A good rule of thumb is, make sure hot foods are hot (above 140°F) and cold foods are cold (below 40°F).

If foods have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, they should be discarded.