No matter what Thanksgiving turkey recipe you use – a traditional method or an adventurous new one – neglecting food-safety guidelines can be a recipe for disaster.

     Raw and undercooked turkey can be a source of bacteria that cause intestinal illness. To give your guests a healthy Thanksgiving, you’ll want to review these turkey safety tips:

The Pre-Thanksgiving Thaw

  • Turkeys shouldn’t be left to thaw on a countertop. Dangerous food-borne bacteria multiply rapidly between 40° and 140°F.
  • If thawing in the refrigerator, wrap turkey well and place on the bottom shelf so it doesn’t drip on other food. Thaw 24 hours for each 4-5 lb. of turkey.
  • To thaw in cold water, put turkey in a leak-proof bag and submerge in cold tap water. Change water every 30 minutes. This method takes 1 hour for every 2 lbs. After thawing, cook immediately.
  • For microwave thawing, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and cook immediately after thawing.

Keeping It Clean

  • After working with the raw turkey, thoroughly wash hands, utensils and work surfaces with soap and hot water so bacteria from the poultry doesn’t contaminate other foods.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff…

  • It’s safest to cook stuffing in a casserole dish, outside the turkey.
  • If you do stuff the bird, prepare the stuffing and put it in the turkey while it’s still hot, then cook the turkey right away.
  • Any meat, shellfish and poultry in the stuffing has to be cooked fully before going into the turkey.
  • Stuff loosely (about ¾ cup per pound of turkey).
  • Use a food thermometer; the center of the stuffing should reach at least 165°F.

Roasting the Bird

  • Set the oven to at least 325°F.
  • Be sure the turkey is completely thawed.
  • Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan.
  • Using a food thermometer, check center of stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint: each must reach at least 165°F.
  • Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing and carving the meat.

     All of us here at Uncle Wally’s wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!


 SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control; USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Click here to see the recipe for Uncle Wally’s Corn Muffin Stuffing!