5 ways to avoid Thanksgiving in the ER

turkey

turkeyWith Thanksgiving looming, now’s a good time to review a few safety tips to ensure your holiday ends happily and not in the emergency room. The USDA if filled with helpful hints.

1. Thawing your bird properly can take some planning. If you have a frozen turkey, the safest way is to keep it in the ‘fridge, allowing 24 hours per 4 to 5 lbs. You can also thaw it in the sink in cold water, provided it is totally submerged and you change the water every 30 minutes. That’ll take about 30 minutes per lbs. You can also thaw it in the microwave; be sure to check your nuker’s manual for details.

2. Remember: 165 degrees is the magic number of the day. Even if your turkey comes with one of those built-in doneness gauges that pop up when the bird is ready, always use a meat thermometer to check it. The bird must reach 165 degrees to ensure potentially harmful bacteria are destroyed. Consider these cooking tips.

3. The same goes for stuffing.  Whether you cook your stuffing in the bird or in a casserole dish outside it, the rule is the same: 165 degrees to ensure no one leaves the table with a food-borne illness.

4. Many families layout their Thanksgiving spread buffet style. To do it safely, don’t leave any dish at room temperature for more than two hours. Ideally, keep hot foods hot (at least 140 degrees) and cold foods cold (40 degrees or less). This means using slow cookers or chafing dishes and rest cold foods in trays of ice. Yes, this is labor intensive, but takes far less time than dashing to urgent care in the middle of the night.

5. That’s also good advice for bringing food to the feast or taking it home – providing there is any left. If you travel with food keep hot foods hot (140 degrees or higher) and cold foods cold (40 degrees or lower). Upon arrival, place cold foods in the refrigerator and hot foods in an oven hot enough to keep the food at an internal temperature of 140 degrees or above.

See this helpful infographic.

Video offers tips for safer stuffing … the bird, not yourself!