Thanksgiving safety tips: Thawing and cooking your turkey

It’s that time of year again when our thoughts turn to preparing and hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Menus are made, food is purchased, and hours are spent cooking the feast.

Thankdgiving toast over a table

But is any thought given to food safety? Food handling should be a priority so that everyone can safely enjoy this holiday meal. The only regret any of us should have after enjoying our Thanksgiving meal is when we step on the scale the next day!

For most of us, the turkey we buy for Thanksgiving will be frozen when we bring it home. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends three ways to thaw a turkey. The best and safest way is to defrost it in the refrigerator. You should allow 24 hours of thawing for every 4-5 pounds of bird. So, a 20-pound turkey will take 4-5 days to thaw in the refrigerator. While thawing your turkey in the refrigerator, make sure you put it in dish to catch any leaks that may occur.

Another thawing method is to submerge the frozen turkey in cold water. You will need to change the water every 30 minutes. Place the turkey in a leak-proof bag and be sure to use cold water, not hot. Also, make sure you thoroughly clean your sink after you are done to avoid spreading bacteria and germs. Whichever method you use to defrost your turkey, wash your hands with warm water for 20 seconds before and after you handle the bird.

person carving a turkey

The last method is to defrost your turkey in the microwave. This can be done using the defrost buttons on your microwave, based on the weight of your bird. Since most of us will be buying large turkeys, fitting the bird in your microwave may not be a viable option.

Now that you’ve defrosted your turkey, you need to properly cook it. Cooking should take place immediately after the turkey is thawed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you set your oven temperature to at least 325 degrees. Cooking time will depend on the size of the turkey. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey is cooked.

The internal temperature of the turkey should reach 165 degrees. If you are going to cook your stuffing in your turkey, the CDC recommends that you use a thermometer to check the temperature of the stuffing too. That temperature should also reach 165. Otherwise, bacteria can survive in the stuffing.

Now that you know how to properly defrost and cook your Thanksgiving turkey, dig in and enjoy that bird!

If you or a loved one have suffered a foodborne illness through the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Allen & Allen today for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.