Turkey Facts to Ensure a Safe and Healthy Holiday

11.14.09 | Sherri Watters | Comments[0]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 80 percent of foodborne illnesses are linked to meat and poultry, so proper handling and cooking is essential. Here are seven tips to help ensure safe turkey eating.

1. Don’t let uncooked turkey sit at room temperature. Shop for a turkey last and get it home and refrigerated promptly. Bag the turkey separately and place it below other food in the refrigerator.

2. Don’t attempt to thaw a frozen turkey quickly by leaving it sit overnight on a kitchen counter. Use one of the following methods:

Option I - Place a covered turkey in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.

Option II - Place the plastic-wrapped turkey in a pan of cold water, changing the water about every 30 minutes.

Option III - Completely submerge the turkey under a stream of lukewarm (70°F) running water.

3. Never place the turkey directly on the counter; keep it on a platter or in a roaster. Clean and sanitize the counter and utensils after handling raw turkey.

4. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw turkey, using plenty of warm water and soap.

5. Use a thermometer to check for doneness, even if the turkey has a pop-up timer. When the temperature reaches 165 F in the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone, the turkey should be done.

6. Wait to stuff the turkey until right before putting it in the oven. Use only pre-cooked meats and vegetables in the stuffing mixture. Cook the stuffing until it reaches at least 165 degrees at the center.

7. Refrigerate any leftovers immediately. Large portions should be separated into smaller containers and covered loosely to speed cooling.

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