Continuing with our Thanksgiving safety series, it’s time to talk turkey – as in food prep safety.
I know in my house Thanksgiving is one of the largest meals I cook all year long. As a mom and now a grandma, I want it perfect. I want my family to remember and pass the traditions of Thanksgiving. From the simplest tradition of going around the table voicing our most precious moments to be thankful for to the pecan pie and the melt in your mouth turkey on the table. I don’t want them in the hospital from food poisoning. So here are some tips I use to keep us in the turkey coma and out of the emergency room…
- 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 cold-water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended
When cooking the turkey…
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness and wash your hands after preparing any raw meat.
- 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. I always was mine in hot water with soap immediately.
- 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.
- And Never – Ever eat the items you stuff the bird with (I use onions, bell pepper, lemons, garlic and celery). That is the fastest way to get sick.
So as much as we hate to move and have to actually work before falling into the turkey coma… we have to put the food up. The magic number is 2 hours. Two hours until the bacteria growth gets dangerous. So, get those leftovers in the fridge. Then pass out on the couch!!!
We pray that your Thanksgiving is filled with many more reasons to be thankful!