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Department of Agriculture & Markets

    

Joe Morrissey, 518-457-0752
Joe.Morrissey@agriculture.ny.gov
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.

Unstuffed Turkey

Cooking Time

Stuffed Turkey

Cooking Time

8 12 lbs.

2.75 3 hours

8 12 lbs.

3 3.5 hours

12 14 lbs.

3 3.75 hours

12 14 lbs.

3.5 4 hours

14 18 lbs.

3.75 4.25 hours

14 18 lbs.

4  4.5 hours

18 20 lbs.

4.25 4.5 hours

18 20 lbs.

4.25 4.75 hours

20 24 lbs.

4.5 5 hours

20 24 lbs.

4.75 5.25 hours

  • Do not interrupt the cooking process.  Interrupting the cooking process promotes bacteria growth.
  • When preparing your meal, thoroughly wash hands, cutting boards and utensils before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.  Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood apart from foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Be careful with holiday buffets. Servings should be kept small and replenished often directly from the stove or refrigerator. The longer food is kept out, especially beyond two hours, the higher the risk of food poisoning. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
  • Carefully store leftovers. Slice the turkey before refrigerating; whole turkeys do not store safely in the refrigerator.  Store the turkey and stuffing in separate, shallow, covered containers and refrigerate at 45 degrees or below within two hours of cooking.  Perishable foods left at room temperature for longer than two hours are susceptible to bacterial growth. Use leftover turkey and stuffing within four days, gravy within two days.

Consumers can learn more about food safety tips at the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ website at http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/FS/FSHome.html , or the Department of Health’s website at http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/indoors/food_safety.

2012 Press Releases