Thanksgiving brings to mind turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and lots of yummy desserts. In order to ensure that you and your guests enjoy a wonderful meal, follow these safety tips for food preparation.
Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey
Once the turkey is thawed, it is important to make sure it is cooked safely and completely. Your oven should be set to at least 325� Fahrenheit. Using your roasting pan and wire rack, place the turkey breast-side up on the wire rack. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165� Fahrenheit before taking it out of the oven. It is important to take the temperature at the thigh, wing, and thickest part of the breast to ensure that it is completely cooked. Let the turkey stand for twenty minutes after taking it out of the oven before carving or removing the stuffing.
Adding the Stuffing
The best, and safest, way to prepare your holiday stuffing is in a separate container. If you really want to cook the stuffing inside the turkey, wait to put the stuffing in until just before the turkey goes in the oven. Since the stuffing is in the center of the turkey, it is most likely the part that will be undercooked. Make sure that the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165� Fahrenheit before taking it out of the oven.
Storing Holiday Leftovers
At room temperature, food can spoil very quickly. Even though you are full and enjoying your family, it is important to take the time to put away leftovers as soon as you finish eating. Food should be stored in closed containers in either the refrigerator or freezer. Date any food you store using either the bag or a piece of tape, that way it does not get confused with other holiday food.
Food kept in the freezer will be good for a long time, but food in the refrigerator needs to be eaten within a week to ensure that it does not spoil. Put enough food for the next few days, plus whatever you want guests to take, in the refrigerator and freeze the rest.
General Food Preparation Tips
Illness can quickly spread through food consumption, so it important to make sure that the environment your food is cooked in is as safe as possible. Everyone who is helping with food preparation should wash their hands thoroughly. Use soap and water and remember to scrub both the fronts and backs of hands. Re-wash hands as necessary throughout the preparation.
Clean the surfaces you are using for food preparation in between each item. This is especially important when dealing with items like meat. Soap and water will usually do the trick, but a food surface cleaner is preferable to make sure that surfaces are as clean as possible.
Follow all cooking and baking instructions to ensure that your food is completely done and contains no bacteria. Undercooked food can contain bacteria that cause illness. Start cooking early enough that everything has enough time to finish.
Click here for information on how to safely thaw your Thanksgiving turkey.
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