Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks and eat turkey! If you are preparing a turkey dinner, these simple food safety tips will help you prepare a safe and tasty turkey.
Store and thaw safely: Keep fresh turkey refrigerated no longer than three days before cooking. There are three ways to thaw frozen turkey in its wrapper:
- Under cold running water (one hour per pound)
- In a clean sink full of cold water, changing the water every couple of hours
- In the fridge (five hours per pound)
Thawing poultry at room temperature is not recommended because it allows harmful bacteria to grow.
Clean carefully: Wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces before prep work begins. Once the prep is done, clean surfaces with hot soapy water, rinse, then sanitize. Sanitizing can be done with a bleach solution (30 ml of bleach per gallon of water) that is allowed to sit for two minutes. For items that fit in the dishwasher, the sanitizing cycle setting can also be used.
Avoid cross contamination: Store raw meat away from food that is ready-to-eat, including fruit and vegetables. Turkeys should be wrapped well and stored on the lowest shelf of your fridge or in the meat keeper to keep blood and juices from contaminating other food. Use a separate cutting board to prepare raw meat. Wash hands after handling any raw foods.
Cook well: Set the oven at no lower than 350 °F (177 °C) and cook for about 20 minutes per pound. Use a good meat thermometer to measure the turkey's internal temperature in several places to make sure it's safe to eat. All parts of the bird (including stuffing) should be at least 165°F (74oC). Health Canada recommends a temperature of 185°F (85 °C) at the thickest part of the meat as additional precaution.
Refrigerate: Chill food after dinner is complete. Put leftover turkey in the fridge within two hours of serving. Health Canada recommends refrigerating leftovers for no more than two to three days. Put them in the freezer in order to keep them longer.