Portland, Ore. – If you’re not sick and tired of eating Thanksgiving leftovers yet, now they could actually make you sick. KXL’s Jacob Dean explains.
Click here to read more from the USDA
Thanksgiving is a time when many people give back, including volunteering to prepare holiday meals or donating food to those who are less fortunate. This is also a time when people are handling and receiving food in unfamiliar settings. Improper food handling has led to past foodborne illness outbreaks during the holiday season. Those handling food in a different kitchen or preparing food in a new way must be even more aware of basic food safety practices to prevent illness outbreaks.
When helping to prepare foods for others or donating foods
When receiving foods
If you have any questions, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
You can also visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.
Byline: Meredith Carothers, MPH, Technical Information Specialist
Date: November 20, 2019
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and you may be spending a lot of time with family, friends, and eating tons of great food. Thanksgiving can be busy, especially with all the preparation and planning, but everyone can have a food safe turkey-day by keeping these four simple steps in mind.
The first step to any food safe gathering is CLEAN. You and your family members should always start meal preparation with clean hands and utensils and should always wash hands and utensils after handling raw meat and poultry as well.
It is also very important to keep your surfaces cleaned and sanitized, especially after they have been contaminated by raw meat or poultry juices.
The next step to a food safe feast is SEPARATE. Raw turkey juices can spread around your kitchen, contaminating the surfaces you will be using to prep those delicious sides. If the juices spread, don’t fret – just clean and sanitize your surfaces with the instructions provided in the CLEAN section.
In order to protect the second most important part of your Thanksgiving feast (the sides!), you’ll want to keep any raw meat or poultry products away from any ready-to-eat items. The bacteria on these products can contaminate your ready-to-eat foods, which could make you sick.
Even though your turkey will be in the oven for hours, it is still important to make sure it is fully COOKED all the way through before you chow down. Your turkey may look golden brown and delicious, but a food thermometer is the only way to know that your turkey has reached the safe minimum internal temperature.
The best part of Thanksgiving is here when it’s time to eat. But, don’t get caught by the clock and let your food items sit out for too long and violate CHILL.
Follow USDA’s four simple food safety steps to keep you and your loved ones safe this Thanksgiving. If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
Byline: Chrystal Okonta, MSPH, CHES, Technical Information Specialist
Date: November 26, 2019
On Thanksgiving, sometimes mistakes happen that make your turkey day a turkey don’t. What should you do if the turkey isn’t ready in time? Here are some ways to save the day.
If you don’t have time to cook a whole turkey:
Cook turkey parts, which can be ready in a fraction of the time. Roasting turkey breasts, thighs, or wings instead of the whole bird also allows you to ensure they all remain moist. Set your oven to at least 325°F. Use your food thermometer and insert it in the thickest part of each piece, avoiding the bone; each is done when it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
“Spatchcock” your turkey. Cut out the backbone of the turkey using kitchen shears, then flip it over and press firmly on the breast bones so the turkey lays flat. Roast it in the oven at 450°F; for a 12-pound turkey, cook for about 70 minutes. You can also grill a spatchcocked turkey. Use a food thermometer to check that it reaches 165°F in three places: 1) the innermost part of the thigh, 2) the innermost part of the wing, and 3) the thickest part of the breast.
Cook two smaller turkeys. Make sure you have enough space in your oven so that heat can properly circulate around both and cook them evenly. Use the timing for the smaller turkey as your guide, and check that each turkey reaches 165°F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.
If your turkey is still frozen solid:
Try a safe quick-thawing method. Cold water: Keep the bird in its airtight packaging or a leak-proof bag, submerge it in cold water, and change the water every 30 minutes. Microwave: Use your manufacturer guidelines to thaw for about 6 minutes per pound. Make sure your turkey can fit in the microwave. After using these methods, your turkey must be cooked immediately. Remember to clean and sanitize your microwave, sink, and surfaces, and wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw turkey.
Cook it from the frozen state (NOTE: don’t use an oven bag). A frozen turkey will take at least 50% longer to cook than a thawed turkey. It may be tough to get the giblets out, but you can pull out the packet with tongs once the turkey has been baking for 20 to 30 minutes. When the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast reach 165°F, it is ready to eat.
If cooking a turkey is intimidating:
Try a smaller poultry product like chicken, duck, or Cornish game hens. These birds may be easier to handle and take less time to reach a safe internal temperature, even whole. You can cook poultry parts for even more time savings. All poultry products must be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F as measured by a food thermometer.
Buy options at your local grocery store, like a rotisserie chicken, or even a complete Thanksgiving meal including turkey. When you purchase cooked food, do not leave it out for more than 2 hours. Have your oven, chafing dishes, or warming trays ready to keep your food above 140°F. If you pick up your meal early, store it in the refrigerator. Break down the poultry and pack it into smaller containers in the fridge. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave with gravy, broth or water to keep the meat moist.
Regardless of your turkey day dilemma, we are here to help! Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.