November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving: The Big Thaw

Thanksgiving is this Thursday; are you ready? If you purchased a frozen turkey, it should already be thawing in your refrigerator. The USDA offers food safety information for thawing poultry. Never ever thaw meats at room temperature. As soon as any part of meat gets warmer than 40 degrees F, bacteria will start to multiply and grow well before the interior thaws. Remember that the "danger zone" where bacteria grow rapidly is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees F. It's almost a guarantee that there will be pathogenic bacteria on the turkey you buy. For refrigerator thawing, you need at least one day for every five pounds of weight. Make sure that you know where your refrigerator is coldest and warmest for best results. Foods take longer to thaw in a fridge that is set at 35 degrees F … [Read more...]

A Safe Holiday Feast and Eat Turkey are offering a new Thanksgiving food safety infographic. When you're cooking and handling so much food on this typical American holiday, you need to be extra vigilant about food safety. Most likely your holiday guests will include those in high risk groups, including small children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic health ailments. And as always remember the four basic rules of food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Wash your hands and any surfaces that come into contact with food often. Don't cross contaminate; separate cooked food from raw food and avoid using the same utensils, cutting boards, and plates for cooked and raw foods. Always cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Never serve undercooked ground beef, chicken, … [Read more...]

‘Ask Karen’ Offers Help for Thanksgiving Meal

The USDA is reminding consumers that 'Ask Karen', the food safety app offered by that agency, can help you make a safe Thanksgiving dinner. In addition, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1888-674-6854) offers bilingual help. Ask Karen has a searchable database of almost 1,300 questions submitted by consumers, along with the answers. The app is available in English and Spanish. Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety said, "a delicious meal is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday, and USDA wants your meal to be as safe as it is enjoyable. Through the Ask Karen app and the Meat and Poultry Hotline, the USDA can help with food safety questions right when and where you need answers." The Hotline is open between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm ET on weekdays. It also offers … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Leftovers

After the Thanksgiving meal, consumers must store leftover food safely to prevent foodborne illness. The FDA and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has information you can use!  Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, side dishes, and desserts are all perishable and must be refrigerated as soon as possible. Remove turkey meat from the bones, cut into serving size pieces, and refrigerate separately from the stuffing within 2 hours of cooking. You can freeze the carcass, or use it today to make stock. Shallow containers are best for storing leftovers, since the food will cool down quickly and stay out of the danger zone of 40 degrees to 140 degrees F. Use leftover foods within three to four days, or freeze the foods in freezer containers for longer storage. Be sure to mark … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Food Safety Hotlines

Happy Thanksgiving! If you have questions about food safety, cooking the turkey, storing leftovers, or anything else, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is open from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm ET today. Experts will answer your questions and guide you through concerns to make sure your dinner is delicious and safe. The number is 1-888-674-6854. Remember that Ask Karen is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any questions you may have. You can select topics, ask questions about different products, and find the answer to your question. The USDA page does say that Live Chat is available Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm ET. We don't know if that includes Thanksgiving! Other companies have holiday hotlines. Honeysuckle White has a help line: 1-800-810-6325 that offers … [Read more...]

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. First 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 … [Read more...]

Countdown to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Thursday! The USDA has collected lots of information to help you make this holiday food safe. Their Countdown to Thanksgiving offers tips, food safety rules, and timetables for safely preparing the Thanksgiving turkey. The government also offers Tips of the Day for turkey handling. If you have not started thawing a frozen turkey, it's too late. Try to purchase a fresh turkey, or cook the turkey frozen. Frozen meats can not be thawed on the countertop. It can take up to six days to thaw a large turkey in the refrigerator. You can thaw the turkey in cold water, but for a large bird this is really not possible. The water must be changed every 30 minutes, and it takes 10 to 12 hours to thaw a 20 pound turkey using this method. Stuff the turkey loosely so the stuffing … [Read more...]

The USDA Wants You to Have a Safe and Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner

The USDA is sharing tips for making a safe and delicious Thanksgiving dinner. USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said, "all year, Americans look forward to sharing a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, and USDA wants to make sure that meal is safe as well as delicious. We encourage hosts to take advantage of our resources, like the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-674-6854), if they have any questions about how to safely cook, store, and serve food for guests." The hotline is open from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm ET on Thanksgiving day. the FSIS virtual food safety representative, Ask Karen, is available 24/7 in English and Spanish. The timeline for preparing the Thanksgiving meal follows. One week before Thanksgiving, get your frozen turkey ready to cook. It … [Read more...]

Don’t Wash That Bird!

Washing chickens and turkeys before cooking is a common practice in many kitchens that is completely unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other pathogenic and potentially deadly bacteria are always going to be on raw chicken. In fact, Campylobacter is found on almost 50% of commercially available whole chickens. Thorough cooking kills those bacteria and makes the meat safe. Rinsing the raw chicken contaminates your sink, countertop, utensils, walls, floors, and everything else in the kitchen (including you) near the sink. Marjorie Davidson, a consumer educator at the FDA, says, "washing raw meat and poultry before cooking makes it more likely for bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and countertops." That will lead to cross-contamination of other … [Read more...]

Safe Turkey Preparation From the USDA

The USDA has lots of information about food safety and turkey preparation. In fact, they have a nice selection of videos on You Tube all about safe turkey preparation. The videos show you how to fry a turkey, prepare a smoked or grilled turkey, prepare a brined turkey, safely thaw a turkey, stuff turkey, and cook turkey. Turkeys present a challenge to many home cooks for several reasons. First, since this bird is only cooked once or twice a year, many people do not have experience working with a turkey. Second, since the turkey is so large, it requires extra space in the fridge and special handling. And finally, many people are not sure about how to determine doneness. The most important part of cooking a turkey is to plan ahead. If you purchase a frozen turkey and want to thaw it … [Read more...]

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