Food Safety for Your Holiday Turkey

Prepared turkey

Stoltzfus Meats |

It’s officially Turkey Month here at Stoltzfus Meats. As we lead up to Thanksgiving and all our favorite winter holidays, we wanted to share as much information as possible about how to safely cook the most popular items for holiday meals. We hope that by sharing this information, you will feel confident to serve delicious meals to your friends and family this holiday season!

To kick off Turkey Month, we’ve asked our Quality Assurance Manager, Jon, to share a few things to remember as you prepare and cook your Thanksgiving turkey. He answers some very common questions like "how long will it take to thaw a frozen turkey?," "should I wash my turkey before cooking it?," and "how long to cook my Thanksgiving turkey?" 

Here's what he shared!

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before beginning food prep and after touching raw poultry.

wash your hands infographic from the CDC

  • Proper thawing for frozen turkey: Refrigerator method is approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds to thaw.  This is the best and safest method of thawing.  The next best method is to thaw it submerged under cold water, ensure you change the water every 30 minutes.
  • Please do not wash the turkey before placing it in the baking pan.  Washing it will increase the potential of cross contamination in and around the sink area.  Also, washing the turkey will not wash away the potential harmful bacteria that is present in and on the turkey, only proper cooking will kill harmful bacteria. 
  • Use a calibrated food thermometer to check the doneness of your turkey.  The turkey should reach at least 165°F internally before consuming.  Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast ensuring not to touch bones, also check the thickest part of the thigh and wing. To ensure your thermometer is accurate, you can check the calibration.  To do this fill a glass with ice and cover the ice with cold water.  Place the thermometer in the glass.  If the thermometer reads 32°F plus or minus 1°, you are good. 

proper turkey cooking temperature illustration from the CDC

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