Not that any of us would deliberately serve a meal that was anything less than fabulously nutritous and delicious… but there’s no harm in reviewing a few FDA Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness This Holiday Season.

Specific to the safe preparation and cooking of turkey, for example, the FDA folks give this advice:

Thawing the turkey completely before cooking is important and necessary to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. If a turkey is not properly thawed, the outside of the turkey will be done before the inside, and the inside will not be hot enough to destroy disease-causing bacteria.Allow the correct amount of time to properly thaw and cook a whole turkey. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs two to three days to thaw completely when thawed in the refrigerator at a temperature of no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A stuffed turkey needs 4 ¼ to 5 ¾ hours to cook completely.

To check a turkey for doneness, insert a food thermometer into the inner thigh area near the breast of the turkey but not touching bone. The turkey is done when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

More information on food safety is available at the following websites and toll-free telephone numbers:

  • FDA Food Information Line, toll-free 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366)
  • Fight BAC!
  • USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, toll-free 1-800-535-4555
  • Health Canada /Santé Canada, Let’s Talk Turkey online fact sheet

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