Listen up first time turkey-cookers and experienced turkey-chefs! Safely preparing a Thanksgiving meal is important to keep your guests and family healthy this holiday season. It all starts with "the big Thaw"- leaving your bird thawing out on the counter for more than two hours is unsafe and is a commonly made mistake. There are three safe ways to thaw a turkey which include refrigerator, cold water, or a microwave. Click here to find out how to properly thaw your Thanksgiving bird with each method.
We all know it doesn't stop there. What would Thanksgiving be without the trimmings? Safely preparing the big Thanksgiving dinner goes beyond thawing the turkey. Keep your family and guests gobbling well past Turkey Day with these simple food safety tips.
1. Wash: Wash hands, counter tops and cutting boards to prevent the spread of bacteria present from the raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. Clean hands and surfaces can prevent food poisoning, Your guests may want you to give them your squash recipe this Thanksgiving, but they definitely don’t want you to give them food poisoning!
2. Separate: Have specific work spaces; separate raw meats and unclean objects from touching cooked or ready-to-eat foods. That means the cutting board you used for raw meat shouldn’t double as cutting board for a chopped salad!
3. Cook: Your sight, smell and taste won’t cut it when it comes to making sure that foods are cooked through. Invest is a food thermometer so that you can check the internal temperatures of your meats and foods.
How hot does your bird need to be?
- Your bird should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
- Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F too. If it doesn’t reach that temperature, bacteria can survive in the stuffing and possibly make your guests sick.
- Your safest bet is to cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer.
4. Refrigerate: Keep foods out of that dreaded “danger zone” by keeping cold foods cold. When you're finished eating, refrigerate leftovers promptly.
For more Turkey Time and Thanksgiving food safety tips follow us on Facebook, like us on Twitter, or call us at 440-322-6367 all season long. Or check out this resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.