As everyone is eager to spend Thanksgiving with their friends and family, there are still some food-safety guidelines which must be taken into consideration.
Foodborne illnesses are widely spread across the United States, and that is because people often rely on wrong cooking methods. According to Al Almanza, food safety deputy under-secretary from the United States Department of Agriculture, undercooking and unsafe handling are the two major factors causing severe foodborne illness.
He stresses that turkey meat might contain Campylobacter and Salmonella, two dangerous parasites that can be destroyed by thoroughly cooking the food. Also, these bacteria can be spread when people don’t properly clean serving and cooking surfaces, or if they forget leftovers out.
Almanza further adds that consumers must be aware of these risks and do their best to prepare a healthy and safe Thanksgiving meal. Therefore, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service updated the food-safety guidelines by offering a few tips:
First, you don’t have to wash the turkey, although it might sound surprising. Based on the latest FDA survey, roughly 68 percent of Americans wash the entire turkey before putting it in the oven.
However, the USDA food specialists strongly recommend consumers to refrain themselves from washing raw turkey meat and other poultry because harmful pathogens can spread to three feet away.
Instead, grilling, frying, boiling, broiling, and baking poultry and any type of meat at a high temperature will kill any bacteria, including Salmonella. In other words, you don’t need to wash the meat.
In addition to this, the best way to thaw the Thanksgiving turkey is to put it in the refrigerator or to use the cold-water method by submerging it (in its wrapper) in a bowl of cold water. Also, make sure you change the water after thirty minutes.
Still, the safest way to thaw the turkey is in the refrigerator, because it will be kept at a safe temperature. When you put the meat in the oven, use a special meat thermometer as well. This way, you will prevent the turkey from overcooking.
The ideal cooking temperature is 165°F, so don’t take it out of the oven too soon. Last but not least, don’t store leftovers outside, although you think it’s cold. Animals might contaminate it, and temperatures can vary, thus overheating the plastic container in which you keep the food.
Therefore, try to store the leftovers in the refrigerator but not for longer than four days after Thanksgiving.
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