Successful Food Celebrations Start with a Holiday Food Safety Checklist

Deniese L. Zeringue  |  11/17/2011 9:32:57 PM

* Before purchasing your turkey, make sure you have ample space in your refrigerator or freezer. Leaving your turkey unrefrigerated on the counter before cooking for several hours is not an option; you do not want to invite bacteria to your holiday celebration.

* There is no quality difference between a fresh or frozen turkey, although fresh turkeys have shorter shelf lives. By purchasing a frozen turkey, you can get the turkey in advance and take advantage of special sales.

* When purchasing a whole turkey, purchase at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person. You'll have enough for the feast and for leftovers too.

* Keep in mind that a whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. It is ok to purchase your frozen turkey as far in advance as necessary to safely thaw it in the refrigerator. If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1 to 2 days before the meal and keep it refrigerated. For example: A 15-pound frozen bird will take 3 to 4 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.

* Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the turkey. Wash the cutting board thoroughly before starting a new task.

* Never defrost turkey on the counter! Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. Leave the bird in the original packaging and place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. To thaw in cold water, keep turkey in the original packaging, place in a clean and sanitized sink or pan and submerge in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

* Once thawed in the refrigerator remove neck and giblets from the body cavities and keep bird and parts refrigerated at 40°F or below until it is ready to be cooked.

* Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it is placed in the oven. Mix the wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using. Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. All stuffing and dressing recipes must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165°F.

* For optimum safety and more even cooking, it is recommended to cook your stuffing in a casserole dish instead of stuffing it in the bird. If the turkey is done and the stuffing is not yet 165°F, remove the stuffing from the turkey and place it in a greased casserole dish to continue cooking to temperature.

* Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Thermal/Conventional Oven Open Pan Method Timetable for Roasting a Turkey at 325°F

Unstuffed Turkey

8 to 12 pounds
12 to 14 pounds
14 to 18 pounds
18 to 20 pounds
20 to 24 pounds

2-3/4 to 3 hours
3 to 3-3/4 hours
3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours
4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours
4-1/2 to 5 hours

Stuffed Turkey

8 to 12 pounds
12 to 14 pounds
14 to 18 pounds
18 to 20 pounds
20 to 24 pounds

3 to 3-1/2 hours
3-1/2 to 4 hours
4 to 4-1/4 hours
4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours
4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours

You can get in touch with Deniese Zeringue by calling her office at 985-785-4473 or by email.

References:
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

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