"Often during the holidays, people who rarely cook on typical days are suddenly in the kitchen helping prepare various traditional dishes - which means foodborne illness can be a serious concern," says registered dietitian Jackie Newgent, national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association/ConAgra Foods Home Food Safety...It's in Your Hands(TM) program. "The good news is home cooks can significantly reduce their risk by following a few basic food safety procedures."
Before you buy, baste or bake, brush up on these turkey tips from the American Dietetic Association and the ConAgra Foods Foundation.
-- Always look for the "safe food handling" label on packages. The label will give you tips for proper food handling and cooking
-- Make sure the packaging is tightly sealed
-- Pick up the turkey and other meat items last and ask to have them bagged separately from other groceries
-- Make sure the refrigerator temperature is set at below 40 degrees F
-- To freeze an uncooked, whole turkey, leave turkey in its original wrapping. To freeze uncooked turkey parts, wrap in freezer wrap or tightly sealed freezer bags and mark with the date
-- A frozen, whole turkey can be kept for approximately 12 months in a freezer set at or below 0 degrees F
-- Frozen turkey parts can be kept for approximately nine months in a freezer set at or below 0 degrees F
-- To freeze cooked turkey, wrap in freezer wrap or tightly sealed freezer bags and mark with the date
-- Cooked turkey can be kept frozen for approximately two to six months in a freezer set at or below 0 degrees F
-- Refrigerate leftover turkey promptly within two hours of cooking
-- Cooked turkey should be eaten or frozen within three to four days
-- Wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before, during and after handling raw poultry
-- Use two separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination, one for raw foods and the other for ready-to-eat foods
-- Refer to the "safe food handling" label on the package for proper preparation
-- For more information, visit the USDA at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp
-- Thaw turkey in the refrigerator (never on the counter) or in the microwave using the defrost setting or under cold water
-- For safe thawing in the refrigerator, allow about one day for every four to five pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator
-- When thawing turkey in the microwave, follow the owner's manual. Cook immediately after thawing because some areas may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving
-- Turkey may also be thawed in cold water in its original airtight packaging or in a leak-proof bag. Submerge the bird or cut-up parts in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Estimate minimum thawing time to be 30 minutes per pound for whole turkey
-- Do not re-freeze thawed turkey
-- Use a meat thermometer to cook to proper internal temperature
-- The temperature of a whole turkey must reach 180 degrees F deep in the thigh
-- The temperature of turkey breast should reach 170 degrees F
-- When cooking a stuffed turkey, the center of the stuffing must reach 165 degrees F. For safety and uniform doneness of turkey, cook stuffing separately
For more seasonal home food safety help, visit www.homefoodsafety.org.
The ADA/ConAgra Foods Home Food Safety ...It's in Your Hands(TM) program educates consumers that home food safety is a serious issue and provides solutions so Americans can easily and safely handle food in their own kitchens. This program complements government-sponsored food safety initiatives that speak to the leading critical food-handling violations by emphasizing the following four key messages: 1) Wash hands often; 2) Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate; 3) Cook to proper temperatures; 4) Refrigerate promptly below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
For more information, visit www.homefoodsafety.org or call ADA's Consumer Nutrition Information Line at 800/366/1655, where recorded messages are available 24 hours a day.
With nearly 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Chicago-based ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. Visit ADA at www.eatright.org.
ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) is one of North America's largest packaged food companies, serving consumer grocery retailers, as well as restaurants and other foodservice establishments. The home food safety education program is a program of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, the philanthropic arm of ConAgra Foods, which works to improve the quality of life in communities across the country.
(a) Source: University of Minnesota News, 2004