Safety tips for preparing your Thanksgiving turkey - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Safety tips for preparing your Thanksgiving turkey

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, grocery stores are packed with people buying food for the big day.

But before you cook that turkey, there are extra safety precautions to take that will keep your family healthy.

If prepared wrong, your bird could make you very sick.  The biggest threats? Salmonella and E-coli.  

Most people buy their turkeys frozen. Bill Dearth, a chef at The Machine Shed Restaurant says the way you defrost them is as important as the way you cook them.

 "Some people Anna thaw their turkey on the counter," said Dearth. "That's just asking for trouble."

Letting your bird thaw in the refrigerator is the most recommended method. This process, however, takes about three days. "If you need to thaw it faster, under cold running water is the next safest way to do it," said Dearth.

Just as long as the turkey stays below 40 degrees or above 140 degrees. "Anytime you're in between there, that's when bacteria is gonna grow. So the more you can limit the exposure to those temperatures, the better off you'll be."

Come thanksgiving day, it's time to think about preparation. Set your oven to 325 degrees. A medium sized bird will cook in about three and a half hours.

"Thursday morning I get up around 5:30, stuff the bird, throw it in the oven and let it baste and let it go," said Keith Saxon, as he was shopping for his Thanksgiving turkey.

For those like Saxon who like their stuffing cooked inside the bird, there are a few extra precautions to take. "You've gotta make sure the stuffing gets to be at least 165 all the way through," said Dearth.  

Or, you can simply bake it in a separate pan.
 
Dearth says,  "as long as you maintain those things, you're gonna be pretty safe, as long as you started with a quality turkey that was handled right at the store, which usually isn't a problem."

Also remember to refrigerate your leftovers immediately, and throw out uneaten food after three or four days.

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