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Turkey Cooking Safety

Thanksgiving Day is soon upon us. Thanksgiving means all the food you can eat, hanging out with family and friends, watching football, etc. What more could you ask for? In order to have a truly enjoyable time with your loved ones, make sure you know how to properly cook and prepare your turkey. Meat and poultry need to be cooked properly in order to prevent food poisoning. A common bacteria found in meat and poultry is clostridium perfringens. Outbreaks occur most often in November and December. Meat and poultry accounted for 92% of outbreaks identified within a single food source.

The Four Main Safety Issues

Safe Thawing

Thawing a turkey properly is very important. It must be kept at a safe temperature. The danger zone is between 40 and 140?F. Bacteria can begin to grow and multiply rapidly if the turkey’s temperature is within this range.

  • Three ways to thaw are: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in a microwave
  • Never thaw a turkey at room temperature
  • Allow 5 hours per pound thawing time
  • Do not grill, smoke, microwave or deep-fry a frozen turkey
  • Speed process up by removing the giblet bag

Safe Preparation

The bacteria in the raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils and work surfaces. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, wash utensils and wash the work surfaces before they touch other foods.

Safe Stuffing

For the best uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you are placing the stuffing inside the turkey, put it in before cooking it and use a thermometer. 165?F should be the very minimum internal temperature of the stuffing. Otherwise, bacteria can survive in the stuffing.

Safe Cooking

The oven should be no lower than 325?F. The turkey should be completely thawed before placing it in the oven. Place the turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Place the thermometer in the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh and wing joint.

  • Minimum internal temperature of 165?F
  • Check temperature in three places: the breast, the outer thigh and the inside thigh
  • Let turkey stand 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving the meat
  • Leftover meat needs to be refrigerated within two hours of cooking


From all of us at Alert Disaster Restoration: Have a Safe and

Happy Thanksgiving!