Monday, November 24, 2014 - 9:32am

A Turkey Left out too Long can Ruin your Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving Holiday is fast approaching. Let’s make sure that your turkey doesn't become a source of anything more than a full stomach. It is important to focus on the following food safety tips to make sure your holiday season is healthy for your family and friends.    
If you don´t thaw the turkey correctly, you and your guests could get very ill.  Plan ahead because turkeys take time to safely thaw.  Buying a frozen turkey within a couple of days of the meal can be a problem - especially if you are tempted to leave the turkey out on the kitchen counter to thaw.  By the time the inside has thawed, the outer portion of the turkey will have become a breeding ground for bacteria. 
The safe way to thaw the turkey is in the refrigerator.  You need about 24 hours to thaw every five pounds of turkey.   When thawing, place your turkey on a solid pan to make sure that it will not leak raw juices on the food stored below.  These juices may contain bacteria that can contaminate other food.  If you buy your turkey too late for thawing, purchase a fresh (unfrozen) turkey instead.  
Cross contamination can happen while handling the raw turkey. The bacteria can easily be spread to hands, utensils, and work surfaces. Make sure to wash your hands well after touching the turkey and before you touch anything else.  Thoroughly clean surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils washing them with hot soapy water before they are used for other foods.

The turkey is safe to eat when the inner temperature reaches 165º F.  Use a meat thermometer to check both the innermost and thickest parts of the turkey to make sure it has reached the proper temperature.  Many cooks and food safety experts recommend that you prepare the stuffing separate from the turkey. If you stuff the turkey, make sure the stuffing reaches 165º F.

How many times have you been at a Thanksgiving dinner where the food sits on the table for many hours after the meal?  Though it is common it is actually dangerous because it allows harmful bacteria to grow and create the risk of a foodborne illness. Put the food away within a few hours and store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Use the leftovers within three to four days.
According to Beth Cleary, Environmental Health Supervisor who oversees restaurant inspections, “The safety guidelines for turkey handling and storage are similar to those restaurants have to follow.  Following these tips will help make sure that your holiday meal will not be ruined by foodborne illness.”
For more information about safe holiday cooking

Additional information about food borne illness prevention

Specific guidelines about cooking times for turkey




Health & Safety