Turkey Safety Myths

turkey safety tips represented by carved turkey

At my home, nothing says “Thanksgiving” like the aroma of a turkey roasting in the oven. It’s a holiday filled with tradition. But there are some traditions we can do with out – including several  turkey safety myths. Make sure your family and friends don’t spend the day after the big meal suffering from food poisoning. Beware the myths below.

Turkey Safety Myth 1:  Refrigerating a whole cooked bird is safe

False! Always carve your turkey after cooking. A whole cooked turkey will not cool quickly enough, putting it at risk for bacterial growth. Carve the turkey into smaller pieces so it cools faster in the refrigerator.

Turkey Safety Myth 2: Thawing it on the counter is safe

False! Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter. Once a turkey has sat at room temperature beyond two hours bacteria grow rapidly. Thawing a turkey in a refrigerator is safe. Allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey. Turkeys are also safely thawed in a microwave and cold water. When using the cold-water method, allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey and keep it in the original wrapping. Change the water every 30 minutes and cook immediately after thawing.

Turkey Safety Myth 3: My pop-up timer is enough to know if my turkey is fully cooked

False! Pop-up timers are disposable thermometers used to measure a turkey’s temperature. These timers are a great tool. However, don’t forget to check in the three recommended places as well. The turkey’s internal temperature must reach 165 F in the following locations: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing. Use a food thermometer in addition to a pop-up timer to check the turkey’s internal temperature.

Remember the four steps to food safety

  • Clean: Wash hands before touching food.
  • Separate: Keep raw meats and poultry away from fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook: Turkey is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
  • Chill: Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours.

For more information

I have unapologetically plagiarized much of this information from an article by the US.Department of Agriculture.  I figure they know better than I do. You can also call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email MPHotline@usda.gov to reach a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. The Meat and Poultry Hotline is also open on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

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