4 Food Safety Tips for Thanksgiving This Year
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to give thanks for the blessings of life. This American holiday is characterized by the wonderful food and good company. However, with the business of planning your family Thanksgiving meal, it is easy to overlook a few important steps to ensure that it is prepared safely. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “food handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems that lead to poultry-associated foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States.”
To ensure a healthy turkey meal, keep these four tips in mind when rolling up your sleeves in the kitchen this Thanksgiving.
- Thawing Your Turkey
Large frozen turkeys usually take up to 24 hours to thaw. It is important to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator in a secure plastic bag or container. Any bacteria present when the turkey was frozen can redevelop if it is not kept at a consistently cool temperature within and without, during the thawing process.
2. Handling Your Turkey
When rinsing and stuffing your turkey, it is extremely important to avoid contaminating other surfaces and other food. Use gloves when handling your turkey and be sure to disinfect all contaminated surfaces with clorox wipes or bleach when through. The CDC’s steps to avoid food to food contamination can be found here.
3. Preparing Your Stuffing
It is easiest to ensure stuffing is fully cooked when it is done in a separate dish rather than in the turkey. However, if it is your family’s preference, you can still cook stuffing inside the turkey with a few precautions. Be sure to stuff the turkey just before cooking it as you do not want it to sit. Finally, use a food thermometer to test that the stuffing’s center reaches 165 degrees F. Take the turkey out of the oven and wait approximately 20 minutes to allow the stuffing to continue to cook before removing it from the bird.
4. Cooking Your Turkey
The turkey should be completely thawed before cooking. Bake your turkey at 325 degrees F with breast side up in a deep dish. Before removing turkey from oven test that the thickest part of the turkey breast has reached 165 degrees F. Remove turkey from oven and allow it to stand for 20 minutes before serving.
Finally, be sure to refrigerate any leftovers at 40 degrees F or colder to ensure safe and delicious turkey leftovers for days.