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Thanksgiving Turkey Tips & Food Safety Tips

(r_gnuce via flickr)

The holidays are here, a joyous time of year to get together, watch sports and eat unhealthy quantities of food.

Unfortunately though, a delightful Thanksgiving dinner can quickly turn for the worse due to even the slightest food-borne illness.

To help avoid a holiday hiccup, Wyoming’s Poison Center has offered a convenient list of “dos” and “do nots” to ensure safe handling and preparation.


-Do keep your turkey in its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook.

-Do wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds before preparing your food.

-Do defrost your turkey by refrigeration or cold running water.

-Do allow one day for every 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator.  In a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.  A 20 pound turkey will take 12 hours to defrost in cold water.

-Do use a meat thermometer to check if your turkey is done.  Your turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

-Do remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey is cooked.

-Do store leftover turkey in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.

-Do store leftover stuffing and gravy in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days.


-Do Not defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on outer layers before inner layers have defrosted.

-Do Not leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than 2 hours.

-Do Not partially cook the turkey one day and continue roasting the next day.

-Do Not prepare food if you are sick or have any nose or eye infection.

-Do Not leave leftovers out on the counter longer than 2 hours.

-Do Not store leftover stuffing in the turkey.

-Do Not re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.

-Do Not stuff turkeys as it makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit within a safe period of time. If you must stuff your turkey, stuff it lightly before cooking and leave room for the oven to cook the interior of the turkey and stuffing.

For more health and safety tips, go to the poison page at the Wyoming Department of Health online, or call Wyoming’s Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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