Thanksgiving, one of the busiest and most anticipated holidays, is right around the corner. While everyone is undoubtedly focused on the food, football and shopping that are the highlights of the long weekend, it is also important to keep safety at the forefront of your mind as well. Staying safe starts at home. Being aware of some basic safe cooking practices can make your holiday both tasty and safe.
Caring for the Turkey
The star of the dinner table, the turkey, demands special care and attention. If it is frozen, it must be thawed using one of three methods: in the refrigerator, in the microwave or in cold water. Never thaw the bird on the countertop as that could allow harmful bacteria to multiple unabated. Regardless of the method that you use to thaw your turkey, it should be cooked immediately to prevent the multiplication of that bacteria.
Cleanliness is of utmost importance any time during cooking. It is particularly important, however, during Thanksgiving due to the volume of food that is typically prepared. The large size of the turkey also can make it difficult to handle.
Be sure to start with a clean work surface as well as clean hands and utensils. Keep raw foods – particularly meats – away from other foods to avoid contaminating cooked foods. Always wash everything raw foods touch – work surfaces, your hands, utensils – before using them with other foods.
When cooking foods – especially the turkey – keep the oven temperature at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or above. In order to ensure even cooking throughout, make sure the turkey is completely thawed. The internal temperature when checked on the meaty parts of the bird – the thigh, wing joint and breast – should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to refrigerate foods within two hours of being cooked to avoid an abundance of harmful bacteria that could sicken everyone.