It also says leftovers need to be refrigerated as soon as the meal is over.
Washington DC (KM). As you’re preparing the turkey for your Thanksgiving feast for Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture urges you to take steps to prevent you or your family from contracting food borne illnesses. Food safety expert Tanya Brown says it’s important to follow the four steps to food safety. “Clean, separate, cook and chill,” she says. “Clean: wash you hands, make sure your surfaces are clean prior to starting. And each time you touch that bird, you want to make sure you wash your hands and clean the surfaces.”
Many people like to stuff their turkeys, but Brown advises against. However, if you do, make sure the stuffing is cooked up to 165-degrees, just like the turkey. “A lot of people do not check the inside cavity of the bird with the stuffing to make sure that that temperature has come up to 165,” says Brown. “They’ll check the meat but they won’t check the stuffing. And then the stuffing could be underdone or undercooked, and the bacteria from the bird could have leeched into that stuffing. And if it does not come up to the 165, than that bacteria has not been killed.”
Brown says you can check the temperature of your turkey and the stuffing by using a meat thermometer.
“We recommend that you make the dressing in a causal dish on the side,” she says. “However, if you do stuff your turkey, just be sure to put that thermometer inside the turkey, inside the cavity where the dressing is, and sure that it comes up to 165.”
The stuffing should be placed inside the turkey just before you are getting ready to cook it, and not the night before, Brown says.
When the Thanksgiving feast is over, the big question is what to do with the leftovers. “You want to make sure that get them into the refrigerator within two hours,” she says. “Do not allow people to graze while the game is on and come back for more and more food.”
Brown says leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator up until Monday. But if you’re not going eat them before that time, she says place them in the freezer where they will remain fresh indefinitely.
For more information on preparing the Thanksgiving meal, you visit the USDA”s website at www.FoodSafety.gov, or call the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). The Hotline is open weekdays form 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans will be cooking more than 46-million turkeys this Thanksgiving Day Holiday.
By Kevin McManus