Prepping the house for the arrival of relatives and shopping and cooking for Thanksgiving can be stressful, but health officials say we should also remember a few simple food safety tips to make sure the bird doesn't bite us back.
Candy Sims of the Broward County Health Dept. said it's important to "Clean, Cook, Chill and Separate" and sent along these reminders:
Clean Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with soap and water before, during and after food preparation.
Cook Heat food to proper internal temperatures listed on food packaging and use a food thermometer.
Separate Do not cross contaminate. Separate raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood and their juices and keep them away from ready-to-eat food.
Chill The refrigerator should be set at 41° F or lower, and the freezer should be set at 0° F. The safest thawing method is in the refrigerator. A 16-20-pound turkey can take 2-3 days to thaw in the fridge, or 8-10 hours in cold, running water. Never thaw a turkey or any other food by leaving it on the counter.
When it comes to dressing, the safest way to cook it is separate from the turkey, Sims said. If inside the bird, mix ingredients just prior to filling the cavity and stuff loosely to help ensure safe, even cooking. Here's where the thermometer comes in: A whole turkey should be 180 ° F in the innermost part of the thigh, and the center of the dressing must reach 165 °F. Do not leave cooked turkey, dressing or other side dishes out, at room temperature, all day long so people can nibble, health officials warn.
If you still have questions, the U.S Department of Agriculture government has YouTube videos in both English and Spanish that demonstrate all types of turkey preparation. For more food safety information: USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is toll free, at 888-674-6854.
Source: Chicago Tribune