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Purdue Extension: Expert Resources for COVID-19

Turkey Talk

November 14, 2018
Turkey Talk

Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means you will be getting together with friends and family. The holidays are supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t make it the next Halloween horror story. That was last month. It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday and forget about keeping the food safe for your guest.

There are four easy steps to remember to keep food safe.

Step 1 Clean: Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Utensils, plates, countertops and cuttings boards all need to be washed. Bacteria that is found inside and outside the turkey can only be destroyed by proper cooking temperatures. So don’t wash the bird, it will just contaminate your kitchen.

Step 2 Separate: Separate raw meats like turkey from ready to eat foods. Make sure that you keep cutting boards and utensils separate too. When finished handling raw meat, wash hands and utensils.

Step 3 Cook: The bird is not safe until it has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Color is not a good indicator. Please use a thermometer to check temperatures instead of depending on the built in one. Check the innermost part of the wing and thigh, and the thickest part of breast. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes when removing it from oven so you don’t lose the juices when carving.

Step 4 Chill: Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Thanksgiving leftovers aren’t good forever, you have 3 to 4 days to eat leftovers or freeze them for up to 6 months. Reheat all leftover to 165 degrees. Remember you can’t smell or taste the foodborne illness causing bacteria.

Keep the turkey safe during thawing. There are 3 ways to thaw a turkey. Under refrigeration, allow 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs. of bird. Submerge the bird under cold water. Changing the water every 30 minutes. You must cook immediately after thawing. Or you could use the microwave. If thawing isn’t an option. It is safe to cook a frozen turkey, but it will increase the cooking time by 50%.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks to your family and friends, while keeping everyone safe from the holiday bug.


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