Tips for Safely Cooking the Thanksgiving Turkey
EMSL Analytical tests for foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
When preparing the Thanksgiving turkey it is important to follow food safety measures to avoid foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for the safety of meat and poultry and has created a list of safety tips for those cooking this Thanksgiving. The four main safety issues include: thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to a sufficient temperature.
There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey: in a refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave oven. In the refrigerator make sure the temperature is 40°F or below and allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds.
- A 4lb-12lb turkey should thaw for 1-3 days.
- A 12lb-16lb turkey should thaw for 3-4 days.
- A 16lb-20lb turkey should thaw for 4-5 days.
- A 20lb-24lb turkey should thaw for 5-6 days.
When thawing in cold water allow about 30 minutes per pound.
- A 4lb-12lb turkey should thaw for 2-6 hours.
- A 12lb-16lb turkey should thaw for 6-8 hours.
- A 16lb-20lb turkey should thaw for 8-10 hours.
- A 20lb-24lb turkey should thaw for 10-12 hours.
When thawing in the microwave oven it is important to note the size turkey that will fit, the minutes per pound, and the microwave’s power level for thawing. Afterwards remove all outside wrapping and place the turkey on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices. Immediately cook the turkey and do not refreeze or refrigerate after thawing in the microwave oven.
After working with the raw turkey it is important to thoroughly wash hand, utensils, and any work surfaces immediately. Raw poultry carries bacteria that can contaminate hand, utensils, and surfaces, and these areas must be cleaned before working with other foods so that bacteria are not transferred.
To ensure a fully cooked meal, cook the stuffing out of the turkey in a casserole dish. If you prefer to place the stuffing inside the turkey make sure it is done prior to cooking. The center of the stuffing should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Not cooking the stuffing to this temperature may cause foodborne illness.
After the turkey has been properly thawed it should be cooked in the oven at a temperature no lower than 325°F. Place the turkey breast side up, on a flat wire rack, and in a shallow roasting pan that is 2 to 2 ½ inches deep. Cooking times will vary depending on size, but it is important to make sure the internal temperature has reached at least 165°F. With a food thermometer, check the temperature at the center of the stuffing, breast, thigh, and wing joint. The turkey should stand for 20 minutes before stuffing is removed and the meat is carved.
“These tips will help minimize the risk of harmful foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria,” states Dr. Jason Dobranic Ph.D., EMSL’s Vice President of Microbiology & Life Sciences. “EMSL Analytical’s advanced microbiology laboratories located throughout the country provide sophisticated testing to detect these types of pathogens in food samples.”
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a full service testing company providing quality lab services under the same private ownership since 1981. Including the corporate lab facility in Cinnaminson, NJ, EMSL Analytical operates over thirty laboratories nationwide in the US and Canada. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies
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