Thanksgiving Turkey Health Safety Tips
Given the dangers of salmonella contamination in raw turkey products, here are some safety tips for you as you prepare your Thanksgiving turkey:
1) Do not wash the bird. This increases the chances of spreading bacteria around the kitchen. Instead, carefully open up the plastic wrap and drain the liquid into the sink. Then pat it dry with paper towels.
2) Wash your hands frequently. While this might sound excessive, you really do want to wash your hands before handling the turkey, while handling it and certainly when you are done. I recommend using disposable gloves and changing them often during the process of handling the raw turkey and, of course, even with the gloves you still have to wash your hands afterwards.
3) Do not stuff the turkey. You've probably heard this before, but it is really risky because the juices from the turkey get absorbed by the stuffing and the stuffing often does reach the temperature needed to kill bacteria (165ºF).
4) Use a meat thermometer to test the temperature. Many turkeys come with pop-up thermometers, but studies have proven that they are completely unreliable. Get a good meat thermometer and be sure to test several different places on the bird including the thigh, the breast and the wing. The internal temperature should read at 165ºF to be safe.
5) Put leftovers away within 2 hours. Turkey and other food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours can lead to bacteria multiplying, which can make you sick the next time you eat it.