When you’re preparing a turkey dinner for family and friends, don’t let uninvited guests like foodborne illness spoil the fun. We have some tips to help you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and healthy meal.
Carefully follow these directions for turkey preparation.
Turkeys are often purchased frozen. Follow the manufacture’s instructions for cooking from a frozen state. If you choose to thaw your turkey before cooking, here are some tips:
- Thaw in the refrigerator at 4°C (40°F) or lower. Allow 24 hours for each 2.5 kg (5 pounds) to thaw. Remember: the bigger the turkey, the longer it takes to thaw.
- Place the turkey in the refrigerator on the lowest shelf and on a tray. This prevents contamination of other foods from the juices produced from thawing.
Do not thaw your turkey in the kitchen sink or on the counter top at room temperature.
- Always wash your hands using soap and warm water.
- All surfaces such as the table or cutting boards, utensils, and dishes must be sanitized using a bleach solution. The sanitizing solution is made with 5 ml (1 tsp) of unscented bleach in 750 ml (3 cups) of water.
- Prepare the turkey in a separate area from other foods to avoid contact with any raw juices.
Turkey can be cooked by these methods: oven, barbeque, deep fried, and smoked.
Cook the turkey thoroughly in the oven or BBQ. Remember to use a probe thermometer to check the thickest part of the breast or thigh to make sure the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 82°C (180°F).
It’s not recommended to cook the stuffing in the turkey, as the stuffing is dense and tends to cook slowly when packed into a turkey. Cook stuffing in a separate oven dish or on the stove top. However, if you choose to cook the turkey with stuffing, use a probe thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is at least 74°C (165°F).
- Do not leave turkey on the dinner table for more than two hours.
- Cutting and deboning the meat from the cooked turkey will speed up the cooling process.
- Store leftovers on the upper shelf of the refrigerator or in the freezer.
- Clean all dishes, utensils, cutting boards, and food preparation areas with warm soapy water and a sanitizer. Use a sanitizing solution made with 5 ml (1 tsp) of unscented bleach in 750 ml (3 cups) of water.
Leftovers and Reheating
When reheating leftover turkey, make sure the internal temperature reaches 74°C (165°F). Use refrigerated leftovers as soon as possible, ideally within two or three days. You shouldn't reheat the same leftovers more than once.
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