When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, it's often the more, the merrier. But if you're prepping the turkey and fixings, you don't want this guest at your table: harmful germs that can make you and your family sick. Here are five smart steps to play it safe.
- Thaw without flaw - Defrosting a frozen turkey on a counter is a big mistake! It may lead to bacteria growth. Thaw your bird safely in the fridge, in cold water or in the microwave.
- Don't cross-contaminate - Raw turkey can spread bacteria in your kitchen. So take steps to keep it separate from other foods. And always thoroughly wash your hands - and any surfaces, utensils, sponges and dishtowels that come into contact with raw turkey and its juices.
- Take your bird's temp - Your bird might look perfectly golden brown on the outside. But that doesn't mean its fully cooked on the inside. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. You'll know your turkey is ready when the thermometer reads 165 degrees F.
- Be smart about stuffing - Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, one thing's for sure: Cooking the classic dish outside your bird is your safest bet. And an unstuffed turkey takes less roasting time - so it'll be ready for hungry guests that much sooner.
- Chill before you chill - After a hearty meal, you're probably ready to settle in and watch the game - or take a nap! But unrefrigerated foods can start growing bacteria in just two hours. So before you and your gang hit the couch or your pillows, get your leftovers in the fridge.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!