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Thanksgiving Day Food Safety Tips

Thanksgiving Day Food Safety Tips
          Food Safety starts from the purchase to the preparation, cooking, and serving of the turkey and other traditional dishes. Here are some helpful tips shared by Lillian Occeña-Po, Ph.D. at Michigan State University, to keep your Thanksgiving Day dinner safe, so you can enjoy the company of your family and guests.
            Food Safety Tips When Shopping:
·         Buy your turkey preferably 1-2 days before you cook it.
·         Pick up the turkey, dairy, and eggs just before checking out.
·         Bag the frozen turkey or keep it separate from fresh produce.
·         Avoid buying fresh, stuffed turkeys.
Storing the Turkey/Perishable Foods:
·         Store the turkey in the freezer if you bought it early in the month.
·         Keep turkey in the refrigerator if cooking within 24-48 hours.
·         Keep the turkey in its package in a pan to keep any juices from getting into fresh produce or food.
·         Refrigerate store bought pumpkin pie.
Thawing the Frozen Turkey Safely:
·         Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the turkey or any food.
·         There are three ways to defrost a frozen turkey safely:
o   Defrost turkey in the refrigerator (40°F) approximately 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. 
o   Submerge turkey in its original package in a pan of cold water enough to cover the turkey. Change the water every 30 minutes, and allow 30 minutes thawing for every pound. Cook the turkey immediately.
o   Remove any packaging and keep turkey in a microwave-safe pan to catch any juices. Thaw in the microwave oven. Cook turkey immediately. (Note: Microwave ovens may vary. Be sure to check the manual for the minutes per pound and power level to use for defrosting.)
·         Remove any giblets from the turkey cavity and cook separately.
Preparing Food Safely:
·         Wash your hands with soap and water.
·         Make sure working areas and surfaces, utensils, and plates are also clean.
·         Use separate cutting or chopping boards for meats and for fruits/vegetables. Avoid putting cooked food on cutting boards that have touched raw food.
·         Avoid wiping your hands that have touched raw food with dish towels.
·         Keep raw food away from vegetables and side dishes that will not be cooked.
Cooking Food Safely:
·         Stuffing the turkey is not recommended.
·         Use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if turkey is cooked simply by looking.
·         Check to make sure every part of the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator. Check the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast.
·         Let turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set.
·         Stuffing should also reach a minimum temperature of 165°F.
·         Any dish containing eggs should be cooked to reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
·         Use a separate clean spoon whenever tasting food from the pot. Do not use spoon for stirring to taste.
·         Use clean serving spoons for each dish.
·         Wash hands with soap and water before handling food or eating.
·         Carve the turkey with a clean carving knife and fork.
Storing Left-Overs Safely:
·         Store left-over food within two hours after serving, including pumpkin pie.
·         Use several shallow storage containers to store left-over food.
·         Store in the refrigerator if eating left-over food within three days. Label and date.
·         Keep in the freezer for longer storage time. Label and date.
For Further Information
·         Ask Karen – USDA Consumer Hot Line! 1-888-MPHotline | (1-888-674-6854). The hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish).


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