Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A time to spend with friends and family, give thanks for the blessings in our lives, and enjoy some relaxation. Each year about 96% of American families gather to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast and almost 88% of Americans will eat turkey as part of their meal, according to blog.nationwide.com. As so many people are preparing a turkey for their dinner tomorrow, it is important to do so in a safe way.
For some people, Thanksgiving dinner is the biggest meal they will cook all year. Stay safe this week and follow some basic cooking safety tips from Foodsafety.gov:
- Preparing the turkey:
- Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
- Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
- Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended exit disclaimer icon.
- Cooking the turkey:
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
- Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
- Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
- Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
- Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
- Safety for leftovers:
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
- Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 40 °F to 140 °F).
- Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
- Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
- Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!