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Thanksgiving Foodsafety.gov

Posted on November 21st, 2018

Infographic demonstrating how to safely handle a Thanksgiving turkey by cleaning the raw turkey, keeping it separate from other kitchen items and foods, cooking it thoroughly, then letting it cool.

The Thanksgiving meal is the largest many cooks prepare each year. Getting it just right, especially the turkey, brings a fair amount of pressure whether or not a host is experienced with roasting one. Follow these tips to make sure your Thanksgiving meal is both delicious and safe to serve.

Steps to follow before cooking a turkey:

  • Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
  • Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
  • Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended exit disclaimer icon.

Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
  • Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook

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