Whether you’re at work, at church, at a party or at home, it seems like there’s always lots of food available during the Thanksgiving season. That could be cause for concern for some who fear undercooked food and illness. However, if you keep these Thanksgiving safety tips in mind, you can enjoy eating holiday food without fear of getting a foodborne illness.
Once you’ve found your favorite recipe for preparing your turkey, plan out how much time you’ll need to cook it. If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, allow enough time for it to thaw. A 10-pound turkey can take up to three days to thaw; a 20-pound one can take up to five days. Keep this in mind as you start your planning!
One of the most important Thanksgiving safety tips to remember is to make sure there’s plenty of time to cook your turkey. Many websites and recipes give specifics for times and temperatures, but the most important thing is to make sure the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165o F. Most likely, this will take several hours.
Some turkeys come with a red button that releases when the right temperature is reached. Don’t rely on that button; keep a food thermometer handy and check the temperature yourself.
To maintain strict Thanksgiving food safety standards, avoid leaving cooked turkey sitting out too long. Bacteria on cooked foods double every 20 minutes when left at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate your turkey within two hours of cooking.
If you’re stuffing a turkey, stuff it loosely. One rule of thumb is to use ¾ cup stuffing for every one pound of bird. Moist stuffing is safer; heat kills more bacteria in a moist environment. Make sure your stuffing reaches 165o F.
Make sure that when you’re baking these pies, the internal temperature reaches 160o F. Home-baked pies that have eggs in them — like pecan, pumpkin, and custard — need refrigeration soon after they are baked. Try to eat them within two to three days. Store-bought pies last longer due to shelf-stable ingredients that prevent fast spoilage.
Deviled eggs can safely be kept, covered and refrigerated for three to four days. If you’ve left your eggs on the table for more than two hours, it’s best to throw them out.
Cook food to the proper temperature and store it promptly for worry-free Thanksgiving food safety. Keep your damp kitchen sponge germ-free by microwaving it for up to one minute. Always use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables. Keep cutting boards clean by either placing them in your dishwasher or thoroughly rinsing with bleach.
Use these Thanksgiving safety tips to make sure your food is properly cooked and that everyone stays healthy at your holiday feast.