Food Safety Tips For Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Food Safety Tips For Your Thanksgiving Turkey

6:51am Nov 27, 2013
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Carolina is one of the top six turkey-producing states in the country.
by jdolenga via flickr

Holidays are times we share the kitchen with family and friends. It’s also turkey time!

Food safety experts say when preparing a turkey, be aware of the four main safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to adequate temperature.

Mary Clingman is Director of the Butterball Turkey- Talkline. The North Carolina based company offers the phone line and online support to help people cook the perfect bird. Clingman has provided the service to thousands of men and women over the past 28 years. She explains how to safely thaw your turkey.

“The only way you should do it is in a cold way. The easiest way to thaw a turkey is to keep the turkey in a wrapper and put it on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow one day for every four pounds,” says Clingman. “A lot of people think one a turkey is thawed out you have to cook it up right away but you don't. Once a turkey is thawed you have to cook it up within four days from that point. If your turkey is a little bit frozen when you cook it that is ok, but it will throw off your timing of course,” Clingman added.

Proper cooking can prevent foodborne illnesses like salmonella.

Clingman says cooking times will vary. She says a turkey should be cooked at an oven temperature of 325 degrees F and roasted in a shallow pan. She also urges people to use a food thermometer to monitor their turkey.

The FDA suggests a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F measured in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

The FDA says bacteria on poultry can also contaminate hands, utensils and work surfaces. That’s why health experts recommend washing these areas before they touch other foods.

Clingman says also don't forget to properly store your leftovers.

After the turkey is cooked, you have a couple of hours and after that we do recommend that you get it carved up and back in your refrigerator. What you can do a head of time is make sure that you have plenty of your refrigerator storage containers available, so that it is easy for you to say let’s go take care of the turkey and leftovers before we go play that football game or something like that. You want to keep things safe so you can enjoy those wonderful leftovers,” says Clingman.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving—that's one sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year.

For a link to more holiday cooking safety tips visit our website,

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