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November 14, 2002

Cooking Turkey Is A Family Affair?With The Right Food Safety Tools

(SafetyAlerts) - As American families and friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, cooks head to the kitchen to prepare bountiful meals. One item not on the grocery list, but that should be in the kitchen, is food safety. By following four basic food safety steps, the Thanksgiving meal can be delicious and safe. In fact, it?s so simple to follow safe food handling practices that children can help.

?Clean. Separate. Cook. Chill. Four simple food safety steps that children and adults can follow,? said Dr. Elsa Murano, Under Secretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture, speaking today at a demonstration on safe food preparation. ?Consumers need to know that a meal can taste great and be safe at the same time.?

Planning Ahead
Before meal preparation begins, you must shop for a turkey. If you shop ahead, then you?ll probably want to purchase a frozen turkey. If you?re purchasing a turkey within 1-2 days of cooking it, then you can safely purchase a fresh turkey.

Frozen turkeys should be thawed prior to cooking. Turkeys, along with all raw and frozen meat and poultry products, must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. Any harmful bacteria that may have been present prior to freezing can begin to grow again unless proper
thawing methods are used.

There are three safe ways to thaw a turkey or other food: in the refrigerator at 40 ºF or less; in cold water; and in the microwave. When thawing in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours of thawing time for every five pounds of turkey. When thawing in cold water, allow 30 minutes per pound and change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. When thawing in the microwave, follow the manufacturer?s instructions. Plan to cook the turkey
immediately after thawing because some areas of the turkey may become warm and begin to cook during microwave thawing.

?Everyone who will help prepare the meal needs to begin with clean hands, so make hand washing a frequent activity when in the kitchen,? said Dr. Murano. ?We generally recommend washing hands that have come in contact with raw meat or poultry for 20 seconds in hot,
soapy water.?

After handwashing, children can help by gathering cooking pans and utensils, and bringing food from the refrigerator to the counter. At this time, be sure that utensils, plates, work surfaces, etc., have been thoroughly cleaned.

?Many people don?t realize that food safety in their homes is as important as the precautions taken by manufacturers and retailers before the food reaches the home,? said Dr.
Garry McKee, FSIS Administrator. ?Be sure to avoid cross-contamination by separating raw meat and poultry from foods that will not be cooked, such as salad fixings and bread.?

While children may want to help prepare a vegetable salad or butter the rolls, be sure those foods are kept away from the raw turkey. Raw meat and poultry products may contain harmful bacteria, so it is important that the juices from raw meat and poultry products do not come
into contact with food that will be consumed without cooking. Also, never place cooked food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat or poultry.

?Did you know that using a food thermometer could make your turkey taste better?? asked Dr. Murano. ?It?s true. You won?t overcook your turkey -- trying to make it safe -- if you use a food thermometer, which is the only way to verify turkey has reached a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.?

Using a food thermometer is easy enough that children can help. Be sure to get the turkey to a safe position on the stovetop or in the oven so that nobody is burned from the hot cooking pan or juices. Insert the food thermometer into the turkey and children can read the temperature.

Follow these temperatures to ensure a safe turkey:

Whole turkey should to reach 180 ºF between the breast and the innermost part of the thigh;
Turkey breast should to reach 170 ºF in the thickest part of the breast;
Turkey thighs and wings should reach 180 ºF in the thickest part of the meat; and
Stuffing, cooked alone or in the bird, should reach 165 ºF in its center.
If you choose to stuff a turkey, then you must use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey and the stuffing. The temperature of the turkey must reach 180 ºF in the innermost part of the thigh and the center of the stuffing must reach 165 ºF. If the stuffing has not reached 165 ºF, then continue cooking the turkey until it does.

?Following the ?chill? step is important because foodborne bacteria can grow while food sits unrefrigerated,? said Dr. McKee.

Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food, and leftovers within two hours. Cut turkey into smaller pieces. Slice the breast meat. Wings and legs may be left whole. Place turkey into shallow containers for storing in the refrigerator. Children can help by clearing the table and placing foods into shallow containers for the refrigerator or freezer.

Change the battery in your smoke alarm when you change your clock's setting in October.

Have a professional check your furnace for carbon monoxide leaks and your chimney for blockages; put a CO alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area.

Prevent electrocutions by installing a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in your household outlets.

Installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) can prevent electrical fires. AFCIs can sense electrical arc and trip the circuit.

Babies on adult beds risk suffocation from hidden hazards such as entrapment between the bed and wall; entrapment involving the bed frame, headboard and footboard; or soft bedding such as pillows or thick quilts and comforters.


Source: FSIS

Selected Recent Recalls

Health Professional:

Did you know?
During 2000 there were over
1050 products recalled in the United
States for safety reasons!

How many did you hear about?

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The information contained herein has been obtained from sources that the Company believes to be reliable, however, the Company has not independently verified or confirmed the information and the recipient acknowledges that no representations or warranties are being made in connection with the use of the information.