Joe Morrissey, 518-457-0752
DOH Public Affairs Group, 518-474-7354 ext. 1
November 21, 2012
State Offers Tips on How to Serve It Safely on Thanksgiving
Prevent Foodborne Illness by Practicing Food Safety for Holiday Meals
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine and Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D. today reminded consumers to prepare and cook food safely during the upcoming holiday season. Many foodborne illnesses are preventable if consumers take simple precautions to protect themselves and their families.
“Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what’s important,” Commissioner Aubertine said, “As New Yorkers come together to enjoy their meals this holiday season, I encourage them to follow the proper guidelines to prevent accidental foodborne illnesses.”
Commissioner Shah said, “While people can experience foodborne illnesses any time of the year, we urge New Yorkers to take special precautions as they prepare festive meals to ensure that their holidays are not just enjoyable but healthy and safe.”
Safe and proper food handling practices in the home are critical in preventing foodborne illnesses. One top concern this time of year is the increased risk of illness resulting from stuffing turkeys prior to cooking. Food safety experts recommend cooking stuffing separately from the turkey to avoid the potential for bacteria growth. Here are some other tips to follow for a safe holiday season:
- Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator at 45 degrees, not on the counter. Thawing at room temperature promotes bacteria growth. Be sure to allow 24 hours of defrosting for each five pounds of turkey.
- The safest way to cook the stuffing is separate from the turkey. Stuffing placed in an uncooked turkey is susceptible to bacteria growth. However, if you choose to cook the stuffing in the turkey, stuff it loosely to ensure safe, even cooking, and be sure the stuffing in the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Be sure to thoroughly cook the turkey at 325 degrees. Cooking a turkey at less than 325 degrees is unsafe because it allows the turkey and stuffing to remain in the danger zone for bacterial growth for too long. A whole turkey should reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature, even if the turkey has a “pop up” temperature indicator.