April 4, 2020

Planning to Wash Your Thanksgiving Turkey? Read This First

The USDA is offering tips on washing turkeys this holiday season. You shouldn't rinse the turkey before you cook it; but what if you plan to brine the bird? There has been a controversy about washing poultry before cooking for some time. Food safety experts do not recommend washing raw meat and poultry in your kitchen sink, simply because bacteria are loosely attached to the skin and flesh. When water hits the meat, bacteria can aerosolize and float around the kitchen. Water can splash the pathogenic bacteria up to 3 feet away from the sink. That area includes your face and hands, countertops, other towels, and the rest of the sink. Researchers at Drexel University have shown that it's best to transfer meat and poultry straight from the package to the pan. The heat used in … [Read more...]

Debunking Thanksgiving Myths

The USDA is trying to debunk Thanksgiving myths to help consumers keep their families safe over the holiday season. Many people believe these methods for preparing and storing food and they can make someone sick, perhaps seriously ill. The first myth is that it's okay to leave food outside when the weather is freezing. This may seem safe, especially if the temperature is below freezing and snow is on the ground, but it is not, for two reasons. The first reason is animal contamination. Animals can get into food stored outside, and can easily contaminate it. Wild animals often carry pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli. And family pets can also harbor bacteria, even if they do not seem sick. The second reason it is unsafe to store food outside is temperature variation. A plastic … [Read more...]

Countdown to Thanksgiving

The USDA is offering advice on the countdown to Thanksgiving Day. The key to a safe holiday is to plan ahead and make sure you follow all food safety rules. If you purchased a frozen turkey, it should be thawing in the fridge. For most sizes of frozen bird, it's too late to thaw now in the fridge. You can thaw the bird in cold water, but that takes hours, and the water should be changed every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold. Do not thaw a large turkey in the microwave; if you do thaw a smaller turkey there, it must be cooked immediately. You can cook your turkey from the frozen state safely and easily. A fresh turkey should only be purchased one to two days before cooking. Today is a great day to buy your bird. And remember never buy a pre stuffed fresh turkey, since it is a … [Read more...]

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. First, 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 … [Read more...]

Safe Turkey Handling Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving

The folks at Holiday Food Safety are offering tips for handling your turkey safely for a happy Thanksgiving. The Partnership for Food Safety Education includes the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Institute of Food Technology, and other organizations. Before you buy the turkey, make sure you have room for it in your fridge. Always store the turkey in a large pan so raw juices don't drip and contaminate other foods. If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure you leave enough time for it to thaw. It takes about 24 hours for every four to five pounds to thaw in the fridge, so by now it's too late. But you can cook your turkey from the frozen state! Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the raw turkey. Never ever defrost the turkey on … [Read more...]

The Three Safe Ways To Thaw A Turkey

There are only three safe ways to thaw a turkey and if you bought a giant, frozen bird your time has run out for one of them. Every year, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) compiles Thanksgiving food safety tips for consumers, including safe methods for thawing. There are three of them: refrigerator, cold water and microwave. To thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, put it on a tray that can collect any juice and place the tray in a fridge with an internal temperature of  40˚F or lower. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. So, a 4 to 12 pound turkey needs one to three days,  a 12 to 16 pound turkey needs — three to four days, a 16 to 20 pound turkey needs four to five days and a 20 to 24 pound turkey needs five to six days A fridge- thawed turkey can stay in the fridge one … [Read more...]

Frying a Turkey for Thanksgiving? Watch Out!

If you're thinking about frying your turkey for Thanksgiving, the National Fire Protection Association says that outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil are dangerous and should not be used.  The fryers "pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process," according to the organization. The NFPA encourages consumers to use a new type of "oil-less" turkey fryer. Tests on these fryers shows that hot oil can splash or spill at any time while the turkey is frying. While older fryers that use a stand can collapse, newer countertop units with a solid base "appear to reduce this particular risk." But NFPA doesn't think that consumer education alone can make the risks of deep frying a turkey acceptably low. The large … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Leftovers and Food Safety

The USDA is reminding consumers that turkey leftovers should be frozen after three or four days in the refrigerator. That means if you have any turkey left over from Thanksgiving dinner, it should be in the freezer by Monday. Correctly refrigerating all leftovers is critical to preventing foodborne illness. The bacteria in food left at room temperature for more than two hours double in number every 20 minutes. And some bacteria produce a toxin while they are growing that isn't destroyed by heat. Leaving food out at room temperature is one of the main causes of foodborne illness. It's also important to cool food rapidly to below 40 degrees F. Large amounts of food (such as the turkey) should be divided into smaller pieces and refrigerated as soon as possible. When you're storing other … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving!

For everything you need to know about cooking a turkey, the Turkey Federation has the answers. Visit their site for information about temperature checks, stuffing, preparation, oven roasting, deep frying, and grilling the bird for your holiday celebration. They also offer information on safely storing leftovers and have lots of recipes too. The USDA has great advice for your holiday meal too. What should you do if your guests are delayed and you have to hold food? What should you do with the food if bad weather keeps company away from your holiday table? Or what should you do if a turkey is done hours before you're ready to serve? Get answers at the USDA blog. And remember that Ask Karen is available 24/7 at AskKaren.gov. And the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is available today from … [Read more...]

Turkey Stuffing Food Safety

The USDA offers food safety information for your Thanksgiving turkey stuffing. Their fact sheet is full of questions and answers all about how to safely prepare, cook, serve, and handle stuffing. The mixture of bread crumbs or cubes, seasoning, eggs, broth, and fruits or vegetables is called stuffing when baked inside the turkey, dressing when cooked in a crockpot or baking dish. It's also called filling. Stuffing is an excellent medium for pathogenic bacterial growth. Never prepare stuffing ahead of time; you can mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, but don't combine them until you're ready to cook. The stuffing should be moist because heat kills bacteria more easily in a moist environment. Never stuff the bird until just before it goes into the oven. And cook … [Read more...]

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