Talking turkey – USDA offers safety tips for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey

press releases from the usda

This Thanksgiving, Americans are expected to consume more than 40 million turkeys, and with so many people preparing a meal they do all that often, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, the public health regulatory agency in USDA responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe, is concerned about the possibility of food poisoning.

“Food poisoning is a serious public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne illness results in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States annually,” the USDA reports in a press release in the lead up to Thanksgiving. It offers the following basic steps to food safety.

  • Clean: Clean hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before cooking. Wash hands for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. After cleaning surfaces raw poultry has touched, also apply a sanitizer. 
  • Separate: Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and foods that are ready to eat.
  • Cook: Confirm foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature by using a food thermometer. Turkey should be cooked to 165°F, as measured in three places — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.
  • Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours. 

The USDA shares the following Youtube videos to help ensure that you safely prepare, stuff and cook a turkey.

Thawing a Turkey

Stuffing a Turkey

Cooking a turkey

And the USDA is also sharing some more in-depth information based on just how you’re preparing your this Thanksgiving. Will your Thanksgiving meal include a brined turkey, a smoked or grilled turkey or will you be deep-frying your turkey this year?

Brined turkey

Smoked or grilled turkey

Deep fat fried turkey

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