Thanksgiving turkey hacks to make the safest meal for your family


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s Thanksgiving week, which means a lot of questions are revolved around food safety. Many questions the United States Department of Agriculture said revolve most around the mistakes with food borne illnesses, which typically happens before the food gets into the oven.

Turkeys need to be thawed at a safe temperature, so they don’t grow food borne bacteria that can make you sick. A lot of people think it’s safe to thaw out a turkey at room temperature, leave it on the counter, or throw it on a cold porch. While that is a way to get it to thaw out quicker, it’s not safe to do that. We really recommend thawing in the refrigerator, or using the cold water method, to make sure your turkeys are staying at a safe temperature.”

Meredith Carothers, USDA Food Safety and Inspection

USDA suggests when washing a turkey, avoid washing over the sink; due to the natural occurring bacteria on the bird. USDA representatives suggest to use a towel and dab the turkey while trying to clean.

“If you allow the bacteria to run into the sink, what can happen is, it can cross contaminate other foods later on,” said Carothers. “Then you may not realize it and you may accidentally eat those.”

Carothers says that a meat thermometer is a must. Whether you are frying your turkey, or cooking it in the oven, checking constantly in the three main areas is essential to ensure the meat is cooked all the way through. Those places are the breast, thigh, and wings.

“In addition to the food products being different from what people may be use to cooking throughout the year, a lot of people who aren’t usually cooking throughout the year are cooking, or helping cook something for their families and friends,” Carothers said. “We just really want to make sure people who are inexperienced, and experienced, is taking care of food safety this holiday season, to prevent illness no matter what.”

The USDA anticipates that more people will celebrate the holidays outside this year, meaning more people frying their turkeys in the backyard. Carothers said it is crucial to make sure your turkey has not frozen parts on it. If it does, it could cause steam and a slight explosion when dropped in the heat.

The USDA has many more tips on making a healthy, delicious, and safe thanksgiving meal. to read more you can visit its website here. USDA reps will be available to answer questions all week long from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Meat Poultry Hotline: 1(888)-674-6854

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