US - Today is Thanksgiving day in the US, and millions of Americans will gather family and friends around the dinner table to give thanks.
For many it is the largest meal they have cooked all year, leaving plenty of room for mistakes that could cause foodborne illness, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
"Unsafe handling and undercooking of food can lead to serious foodborne illness," said Al Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA.
"Turkeys may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, harmful pathogens that are only destroyed by properly preparing and cooking the turkey. Similarly, leaving leftovers out for too long, or not taking care to properly clean cooking and serving surfaces, can lead to other types of illness. We want to be sure that all consumers know the steps they can take and resources that are available to them to help prepare a safe and enjoyable holiday meal. "
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) offers five tips for a food safe Thanksgiving:
1. Don't wash the turkey
According to the most recent Food Safety Survey, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, 68 percent of the public washes whole turkey before cooking it. Washing raw meat and poultry can cause bacteria to spread up to three feet away. Cooking meat and poultry to the right temperature kills any bacteria that may be present, so washing meat and poultry is not necessary.
2. Use the refrigerator, the cold-water method or the microwave to defrost frozen turkey
There are three safe ways to defrost a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave oven. Thawing food in the refrigerator is the safest method because the turkey will defrost at a consistent, safe temperature.
3. Use a meat thermometer
The only way to determine if a turkey is cooked is to check its internal temperature with a food thermometer. A whole turkey should be checked in three locations: the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast. Your thermometer should register 165°F (74°C) in all three of these places.
4. Don't store food outside
Storing food outside is not food safe for two reasons. The first is that animals, both wild and domesticated, can get into food stored outside, consuming it or contaminating it. The second is temperature variation. The best way to keep that extra Thanksgiving food at a safe temperature (below 40°F) is in a cooler with ice.
5. Leftovers are safe in the refrigerator for up to four days
Cut the turkey off the bone and refrigerate it as soon as you can, within 2 hours of the turkey coming out of the oven. Leftovers will last for four days in the refrigerator, so if you know you won't use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within four months.ThePoultrySite News Desk