Today is Thanksgiving and turkey is on everyone’s mind. But there is one other thing we should all be mindful of as we get ready for the day’s big meal: food safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Clostridium perfringens is the second most common cause of food poisoning from bacteria. Most outbreaks (92%) are caused by meat and poultry.
Here are few tips from the CDC on safely preparing, cooking, and storing your Thanksgiving feast for a happy, healthy holiday:
- Always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces immediately after handling raw poultry.
- If using a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw your bird at a safe temperature. Bacteria thrives between 40 and 140°F.
- The three safest ways to thaw your turkey (and any other frozen food) are (1) in the refrigerator; (2) in cold water; and (3) in the microwave. See the USDA’s “Safe Methods for Thawing” website to learn more.
- To stuff in or out of the bird? The CDC’s answer to this debate is “for optimal safety and uniform doneness,” cook your stuffing outside the turkey in a separate casserole dish.
- Always use a meat thermometer when cooking your turkey and be sure your turkey reaches a safe minimal internal temperature of 165°F. Stick the thermometer into the meatiest portions of the turkey breast, thing, and wing.
- Refrigerate your Thanksgiving leftovers as soon as possible, ideally within 2 hours of preparation. This can prevent food poisoning. Be sure to keep your leftovers at 40°F or below.
For more information on having a safe food holiday, check out the CDC’s “It’s Turkey Time” website.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library!