HEALTH ALERT: Keep Thanksgiving safe this year, advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by avoiding misinformation and myths picked up from social media and other sources.
The agency, which even has a meat and poultry safety division which is available on Thanksgiving morning, provides the following information to avoid embarrassment or family sickness:
>>> MYTH 1: Refrigerating a whole cooked turkey is safe.
False! Always carve your turkey after cooking. A whole cooked turkey will not cool quickly enough, thus putting it at risk for bacterial growth. Carve the turkey into smaller pieces so it cools faster in the refrigerator.
>>> MYTH 2: Thawing a turkey on the counter is safe.
Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter. Once a turkey has sat at room temperature beyond two hours, it enters the Danger Zone, where bacteria grow rapidly.
Thawing a turkey in a refrigerator is safe. Allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey. Turkeys are also safely thawed in a microwave and cold water.
When using the cold-water method, allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey and keep it in the original wrapping. Change the water every 30 minutes and cook immediately after thawing.
>>>MYTH 3: My pop-up timer is enough to know if my turkey is fully cooked.
Pop-up timers are disposable thermometers used to measure a turkey’s temperature. These timers are a great tool. However, don’t forget to check in the three recommended places as well.
The turkey’s internal temperature must reach 165F in the following locations: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
Use a food thermometer in addition to a pop-up timer to check the turkey’s internal temperature.
>>> Also remember the four steps to food safety:|
— Clean: Wash hands before touching food.
— Separate: Keep raw meats and poultry away from fruits and vegetables.
— Cook: Turkey is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
— Chill: Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours.
The Department also provides many other important additional tips at http://bit.ly/3TWGYcR.
For Thanksgiving food safety questions, contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854, MPHotline@usda.gov or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10AM to 6PM Monday through Friday.
The Meat and Poultry Hotline also will be open from 8AM to 2PM on Thanksgiving Day
Also, check out the USDA FoodKeeper App, which helps to reduce food waste by providing food and beverage storage information.
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