Turkey Safety: The Dos and Don’ts

By Tiffany Meier

Thanksgiving is here, along with all the turkey questions.

Whether pro or novice, cooking a turkey properly is key to a healthy and happy holiday with family and friends.

Here are some tips for everyone.

There are four safety issues: Thawing, Preparing, Stuffing, and Cooking to an adequate temperature.

1. Thawing

Firstly, NEVER leave a turkey out on the counter to thaw overnight.

Why? Because bacteria can grow rapidly in a raw turkey when its temperature is between 40-140 degrees.

The CDC recommends thawing turkeys in the microwave, the refrigerator, or in a sink of cold water that’s switched out every 30 minutes.

If using a fridge, turkeys take one day per four pounds of meat, according to Butterball.

2. Preparing

While preparing the turkey, be sure to wash hands and surfaces often.

Keep raw turkey separate from other items to prevent illness-causing bacteria from spreading.

3. Stuffing

If you’re stuffing the bird, do so just before cooking.

4. Cooking 

Make sure to cook a stuffed turkey at temperatures higher than 325 degrees.

While cooking, it’s critical to use a good food thermometer to help ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees—high enough to kill any bacteria.

Make sure to check the temperature in the correct spot.

“You’re probably going to check right in between the leg and the cavity of the body and then also in the thickest part of the breast,” sayas Mike Folino, a registered dietitian.

Follow these tips for a happy, and healthy, Thanksgiving!