Talking turkey: Preparing safely, effectively


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nearly 88 percent of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving and the average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds, meaning that approximately 690 million pounds of turkey is consumed in the U.S. during Thanksgiving.

Ohio turkey farmers and turkey experts from the Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) are sharing important food safety tips to keep families happy and healthy this Thanksgiving.

“Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving table and it’s important to make sure that everyone can enjoy it safely,” said Jim Chakeres, OPA executive vice president. “By following a few simple food safety steps, Ohioans can protect their friends and families from foodborne illness this Thanksgiving.”

Ohioans cooking turkey for Thanksgiving can keep guests healthy by keeping these food safety tips in mind when preparing the turkey and packing up leftovers:

Thaw frozen turkeys in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Whole turkeys thaw at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. For example, a 15-pound frozen turkey will take about 3 to 4 days to completely thaw in the refrigerator.

Never rinse the turkey! If a raw turkey is rinsed, bacteria can be spread to other foods and surfaces in the kitchen. Instead, cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that might be present.

Don’t take the turkey out of the oven until a meat thermometer reads 165°F at the breast and 175°F at the thigh. Make sure the thermometer doesn’t touch bone.

Thoroughly wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and ensure all cooking surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned before and after touching raw poultry.

Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw turkey separate from other foods and using separate utensils when preparing the turkey.

Pack leftovers in shallow, airtight containers and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. Refrigerated leftovers should be eaten within 3-4 days or frozen and enjoyed within 3-4 months.

Ohio turkey farmers know that food safety is a shared responsibility, which is why they work hard before Thanksgiving and year-round to responsibly raise safe, wholesome and high-quality turkey for families to enjoy.

Ohio ranks ninth nationally in turkey production with nearly 305 million pounds of turkey produced.

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