Thanksgiving is the holiday we are all familiar with that originated from when the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in America around the 1620’s. Today most families celebrate this holiday by spending time with family and expressing what they are most grateful for. For my family, one of our favorite traditions is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and eating one of the largest meals that is prepared once a year for this holiday. This year, instead of the usual things we give thanks to, let’s focus on giving thanks to food safety and all of the work that goes into keeping the food we consume on Thanksgiving, safe.
According to the USDA, “in calls to the United States Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline, turkey is the most often asked about food category by consumers” (Turkey from Farm to Table). So, let’s talk turkey and understand why taking cautious steps to preparing a turkey is important, and learn about what we need to do ourselves, as consumers, to finish preparing the turkey safely.
Turkeys are a “large, widely domesticated North American bird that are fed a diet of mainly corn and soybean meal with a supplement of vitamins and minerals. After being butchered, all turkeys found in retail stores are inspected for evidence of disease. For example, Salomnella Enteritidis is a common foodborne organism that can be found in the intestinal track of warm-blooded animals, such as turkeys” (Turkey from Farm to Table). This is why individuals need to air on the side of caution when preparing turkey, so it can be done properly.
Nelson-Jameson cares about your families safety, and that’s why we advocate eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination this holiday season. Here are some tips on how to safely handle and prepare turkey for Thanksgiving:
- If purchasing a frozen turkey, allow approximately 24 hours of thawing for every 4 to 5 pounds the turkey weighs. There are three ways you can thaw your turkey safely—in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave oven. Reminder to keep the turkey in its original wrapper and place it on a tray to catch any excess juices that may leak from the turkey (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
- When roasting your turkey, set your oven temperature no lower than 325° F. Make sure to place your turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
- If the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F, it should be safe to eat. To get the most accurate measurement, measure the temperature with a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
- When storing leftovers, discard any turkey, stuffing, or gravy that has been left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Divide the leftovers into smaller portions, and refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling. Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days, or use frozen leftovers within 2 to 6 months for best quality (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
As we remember to be thankful for the things most important to us in our lives this year, follow these food safety tips, and you’ll give thanks for a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.