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Mike Parker

Turkey Safety

It’s that time of year when everyone’s attention turns to…Turkey! For most cooks, it’s the biggest meal they will prepare all year. And while your attention will likely be divided between the bird, the sides, the desserts and all the gathered family and friends, it’s important to remember food safety. After all, nobody wants to spend Thanksgiving doubled over with abdominal cramps, diarrhea or fever from salmonella or campylobacter from eating contaminated or undercooked meat.

Here are a few quick tips from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to keep your Turkey Day feast festive!

  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling your raw turkey.
  2. Do NOT wash the turkey. Yes, I know, your mother, grandmother and great-aunt Tilley all swear you should. But don’t. It’s a bad idea. Washing your turkey, or any other poultry, won’t do anything to kill bacteria that is already there. In fact, washing could cause the bacteria to aerosolize and spread to those in the immediate vicinity or onto nearby food prep surfaces. The ONLY way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
  3. Keep raw turkey separate from all other foods. Don’t ‘multi-purpose’ your food preparation tools. Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils to keep from cross-contamination.
  4. The only way to know if your turkey is thoroughly cooked, and therefore safe to consume, is to check it with a food thermometer in three different places - the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing. Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F.

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