Safety tips for cooking turkey, Thanksgiving meal

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:
It’s time to cook the turkey for your Thanksgiving meal. (CREDIT: WINK News)

It’s almost go-time for Thanksgiving meal prep.

But before you start working on that turkey, there are some important steps to make sure your meal goes down well.

Cooking takes time but cutting corners on food safety should simply be off the table.

This year, Marilyn Santiago is cooking the turkey for her family.

“This is my first ever turkey dinner for Thanksgiving that I am producing myself,” Santiago said.

There is a long list of prep work that needs to be done, especially when handling a turkey.

Without knowing, Santiago was about to make one of the biggest mistakes when she thought she was being mindful of food safety.

“Well, just in case, I’m going to rinse it out,” Santiago said.

But that’s a no-no, according to the CDC.

No matter what the recipe instructs, don’t rinse the bird before cooking because juices from raw poultry can contaminate counters, utensils and other food.

A 2020 survey found that 78% of us have made that mistake.

“I am seriously very concerned about that right now,” Santiago said.

The turkey should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Make sure to measure it in three different spots to be safe.

Santiago is also tackling stuffing.

If you’ve stuffed your bird, it also needs to reach a temperature of 165.

Experts advise waiting an extra 20 minutes once you remove the turkey from the oven to give the stuffing more time to cook.

And plan to leave out food for guests to graze on? The CDC reports you have a 2-hour window before things might go bad.

So pop them in the fridge and warm them up as needed.

One of the best things about the feast is leftovers, of course.

“For the next few days, it’s going to be turkey everything. Turkey breakfast, turkey lunch, turkey wraps,” Santiago said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the Monday after Thanksgiving is the last day people can safely eat refrigerated leftovers.

These safety tips will hopefully prevent you from spoiling your holiday.

Foodborne illnesses account for about 128,000 hospitalizations in the U.S.

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