December 7, 2016

USDA: Countdown to Thanksgiving

The USDA is offering food safety and meal planning tips for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. That holiday is a week away, and now is the time to start planning.

Roasted TurkeyFirst, plan early and shop early to make sure that nothing is forgotten. Shelf stable items and foods that can be safely stored for a week should be purchased now. Clean the fridge and use up foods that take space in that appliance.

Make sure that you have the right equipment for the meal. The roasting pan has to be large enough for the turkey. You should have a food thermometer to make sure that all food is cooked to a safe temperature. Turkey should be cooke dot a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, checked in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.

Buy a fresh turkey no more than 1 to 2 days before cooking. If you are buying a frozen bird, make sure that you allow enough time for the bird to thaw in the refrigerator. Never thaw a turkey on the counter. You can thaw it in the microwave oven, but that method can be tricky and problematic. You can thaw the turkey under cold running water, but the safest way is to use the fridge. Or you can cook your turkey frozen for an even safer method.

Allow about a pound of turkey per person if you are buying a whole bird. Do not buy a pre stuffed fresh turkey, as bacteria will be growing in the stuffing as the bird sits. Even thorough cooking may not destroy all bacteria before the turkey is ready to eat.

The USDA also has several apps and fact sheets to help. The FoodKeeper app has storage advice to help you determine if food should be saved or thrown away. And the fact sheet Countdown to the Thanksgiving Holiday helps you plan everything and gives you a timetable for turkey roasting.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday with family and friends. Enjoy every bite of your delicious meal.

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