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Food Safety Tips for Cooking Thanksgiving Turkeys From the Centers for Disease Control
Is this your first year cooking a Thanksgiving turkey for the family? Or maybe it’s been several years since you’ve cooked “the bird.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, offers food safety tips for cooking your holiday turkey, which includes;
- Safely Thaw Your Turkey (three options)
- In the refrigerator in a container (to catch any drippings to avoid contaminating others foods)
- In a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (water must be changed for new cold water every 30 minutes)
- In the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions.
Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. A thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, its temperature becomes unsafe. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F.
- Handle Your Turkey the Right Way
Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill—to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, family, and friends at: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html.
- Cook Your Turkey Thoroughly
- Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F.
- Place the completely thawed turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep.
- Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint.
- Even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should still use a food thermometer to check that it is safely cooked.
- Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before carving the meat.
- Learn more about safe minimum cooking temperatures and how to use a food thermometer for turkey and other foods.
- Go to: https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-cooking-temperature for safe minimum cooking temperatures.
- Go to: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/appliances-and-thermometers/kitchen-thermometers/%21ut/p/a1/jZDRboJAEEW_pR-w2UWU6KMhaQQVYoiW7kszwVnYCLuEnWj060X7RFNbZp5m5tzcyeWS51waOOsSSFsD9WOWwZfYicBbhCJOF967iJLDLl2HoZhnsx74_ANI_JH6F7UU_-njEQaTbhtuSy5boIppoyzPSyQGxl2wczxX1h6ZA4V0ZQoKYq5CpP4AbVtrMAW6Hj4yqrBrbIP0VJ00FRWa4faDy-FDwus7SvxsuooTX6TTn8AviX0DryNpm31 for how to use a food thermometer.
- Cook Stuffing Thoroughly
Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking.
With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center reaches 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may then cause food poisoning. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, wait 20 minutes after taking the bird out of the oven before removing the stuffing; this allows it to cook a little more. Learn more about how to prepare stuffing safely at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/stuffing-and-food-safety.
Most of all heed all safe cooking advice and then enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving.