December 3, 2023

Food Safety Bloopers: Thanksgiving

Rachael Ray’s magazine is again the focus of Food Safety Bloopers. Her food editor Terry Singh is in a video showing people how to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving. Incorrectly. While Ms. Ray’s magazine and her books continue to promote cooking burgers to rare and medium rare, against USDA advice, this is another blooper.

Blooper banana peelFirst of all, while Ms. Singh correctly says that frozen turkeys must be thawed for days, she does not specify that the thawing must take place in the refrigerator. Since the turkey is sitting on the counter, some consumers may make that mistake and thaw the turkey at room temperature.

Ms. Singh prepares the bird by rinsing it in the kitchen sink. Food Poisoning Bulletin has warned consumers about this mistake before, since pathogenic bacteria can spread up to three feet away under running water. You can actually see the water spray around the kitchen in the video. No mention is made of cleaning the sink after the bird has contaminated it.

Never once during the video does Ms. Singh wash her hands. She also touches other implements in the kitchen, including an instant-read food thermometer, after handling the raw turkey. She sets the scissor, which touched the raw turkey, on the countertop and doesn’t mention disinfecting the countertop in the video.

Finally, a pop up window appears while Ms. Singh correctly states that the turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees F that says “Hey! Savvy cooks say 155 degrees F. The bird continues to cook while out of the oven until it reaches USDA-safe 165 degrees.” That isn’t entirely accurate. Meats usually increase about 5-10 degrees F out of the oven, but that 10 degrees is not guaranteed. And if the bird is stuffed, removing it from the oven when the meat reaches 155 degrees F could leave the stuffing at a lower temperature, especially at the center, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

To properly prepare your Thanksgiving turkey, follow the advice from the USDA.

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