There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving, friends and family getting together, watching football, and the smell of roasting turkey throughout the house. But the fun can quickly come to an end if someone gets food poisoning. Here’s 5 common food safety mistakes to avoid this Thanksgiving.
Thaw your turkey in the fridge. It’s the safest way because it allows it to defrost at a consistent temperature and prevents bacteria from growing. If you're thawing a 1-12 pound turkey the recommended time is 1-3 days. If you’re reading this it’s not too late. Set a reminder on your phone to put it in the fridge when you get home.
Thaw your turkey in cold water. Keep it in its original packaging or place in a leak-proof bag and submerge it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Average thaw time is 30 minutes per pound, so a 12 pound turkey would take approximately 6 hours. Once the turkey is thawed cook immediately.
An easy way to keep everything clean and sanitary is to avoid washing your uncooked turkey. Not only is it ineffective at killing germs, but water can spray bacteria over dishes, counters and other nearby foods. If nearby areas are not properly cleaned bacteria can spread, multiply and risk infecting your guests.
Cooking the stuffing inside the turkey needs to reach an internal temp of 165˚F to be safe to eat. You’ll likely risk having one being undercooked while the other is overcooked. And nobody likes an overcooked turkey, even if the gravy is grandma’s recipe. On a positive note, cooking your turkey unstuffed will make for a quicker cook time.
There’s always the aunt that says they can tell the turkey is done by looking at it. Why risk it? Check your turkey with a thermometer. Properly insert your thermometer by placing it in the thickest part of the breast and the innermost part of the thigh and wing and avoid touching the bone. When your turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F it’s ready.
Keep to the 2 hour rule. Properly store leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours of the meal. A general rule of thumb is that leftovers are good for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Or place them in the freezer if you think your family will be unable to eat them within a few days.