Keeping your holiday meals safe

Holidays are a great time for family gatherings and good eating! So, if you are planning on having family and friends over, here are some great tips to remember.

  • To thaw your turkey, make sure you put it in the refrigerator for at least a couple of days before you are going to be cooking it. Thawing it on the counter or in the sink in water could grow harmful bacteria. If you forgot to pull it out of the freezer, you could run cold water in the sink and place the wrapped turkey in the water. Change out the water every 30 minutes. I would definitely set a reminder on your phone so you could just pull it out and place it in the refrigerator to thaw… But, that’s just me.
  • Avoid undercooking or overcooking – Make sure you cook meat to the proper internal temperatures to ensure your holiday meal is safe to eat. It’s a great idea to use a meat thermometer like this one to check to make sure your meat item is cooked properly. (This is a paid link.)
  • Don’t leave food out for too long. Food shouldn’t be left out for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can start to grow and put you and your family at risk of getting sick. After everyone is done eating, it’s a great idea to put food in the fridge.
  • I see a lot of people stuffing those birds this time of year. But do you know the proper temperature to which it should be cooked? The turkey itself should be at an internal temperature of 165°F. You will want to check the thickest part. So along with the turkey being 165°F, you also need to make sure the stuffing is 165° as well. You may even consider cooking the stuffing separately to ensure everything is cooked properly. For more one preparing the stuffing, check out this article on the eatright.org website.
  • There are usually leftovers. Always make sure you reheat them to an internal temperature of 165°F and make sure the food isn’t left out for more than 2 hours.

By following these basic food safety guidelines, you and your family are surely going to have a safe and happy holiday season! I found this wonderful handout that will help you know the proper temperature of the food you are preparing.

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