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Holiday Food Safety

It’s important to follow certain safe food handling practices all year long, but with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, many often forget. To ensure that your holiday season is safe and healthy, click here for good food safety reminders when preparing for your holiday entertaining.

Turkey Safety Tips from MARTIN’S

The holiday season is fast approaching and chances are you will be among the ninety percent of Americans enjoying turkey this Thanksgiving.  MARTIN’S wants to make sure your holiday feast is healthy and safe.

MARTIN’S® Food Markets reminds customers that safe food handling should be a priority, especially during the holidays.  As families busily prepare their turkey feast, MARTIN’S offers the following tips to keep consumers aware of the dangers of food-borne illness that are often overlooked during this hectic time.  

Turkey Tips

It’s time to select a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.  Whether to buy a fresh or frozen turkey is a personal preference, as both will make an appetizing centerpiece for your holiday meal.

If you choose to buy a frozen bird, you may do so at any time.  Make sure you have adequate storage space in your freezer.  Allow enough time to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator; never thaw at room temperature.  In the refrigerator a whole turkey will thaw in 1 to 5 days, depending on the size.  A bird under 12 lbs. will take 1-2 days, but a large one of 20-24 lbs. will take 4-5 days.  Immersing it in cold water can also thaw a turkey.  Leave turkey in its original wrappings or place in a watertight bag.  Change water every 30 minutes.  Turkey will thaw in roughly 4 to 12 hours, depending on the size of the bird.

For quick thawing of a raw or cooked turkey, use the microwave at the Defrost or Medium-low setting according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Turn turkey as it thaws; take care the turkey does not begin to cook.  After it is thawed, cook the turkey immediately.

If you choose to buy a fresh turkey, make sure to freeze it if you do not plan to cook the bird within 2 days of purchase.  Follow these tips:

  • Store fresh turkey in its original wrapping
  • Have a cold refrigerator (40 degrees F)
  • Purchase a turkey with a sell-by date of no more than two days before the day you plan to cook the bird.

How big of a turkey should you buy? Plan on 1 ¼ lb. per person or 1 ½ lbs. per person if you plan to have leftovers.  Leftover turkey can be kept for 3 to 4 days.

Preparing the bird

Wash turkey thoroughly in cold water and pat dry with paper towels before cooking. When turkey appears done, pierce it with a fork. You should be able to insert the fork with ease, and the turkey juices should run clear. To ensure safety, always use a food thermometer to check the innermost part of the thigh and wing or thickest part of the breast. It’s the only way to make sure your turkey reaches the following minimum internal temperature:

  • Turkey breasts: 170 degrees F
  • Ground turkey: 165 degrees F
  • Whole turkey or other parts: 180 degrees F

If your bird is not served immediately, either keep cooked turkey hot, between 140 and 160 degrees F, or refrigerate it at 40 degrees F or lower.  Do not travel long distances with hot turkey.  When transporting cooked turkey to another dining site, place it in an insulated container or ice chest until ready to eat.

Have leftovers?

Remember the two-hour rule when serving your Thanksgiving dinner. Perishable foods need to be removed from the table and refrigerated promptly.

  • Cut turkey into small pieces
  • Refrigerate stuffing and turkey separately in shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking
  • Use leftover turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days; gravy within 2 days.  Or, you may freeze foods for later use.  Cooked turkey, gravy and stuffing should be packaged separately and may be frozen in foil or freezer bags for up to 1 month.
  • Reheat foods thoroughly to 165 degrees F.

USDA MEAT AND POULTRY HOTLINE
1-800-535-4555
 
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