USDA advice clears Turkey confusion before Thanksgiving

This week, many will get pleasure from a scrumptious meal on Thanksgiving Day with household and pals. Taking the mandatory steps towards secure meals dealing with and sanitation will assist shield you and your family members this yr. 

With social media abounding in misinformation and confused cooks with sturdy opinions, the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) has launched the next tips and solutions to frequent turkey cooking questions to verify your Thanksgiving meal is ready safely.

Additionally, a few of your favourite Thanksgiving recipes could embody flour, so we’ve included some do’s and don’ts flour security ideas from the FDA.

Clear and Sanitize

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Handwashing is step one to avoiding foodborne sickness. Wash your fingers for no less than 20 seconds with cleaning soap and water earlier than, throughout, and after dealing with meals. In a latest study, 97 % of individuals in a USDA take a look at kitchen failed to scrub their fingers correctly. Be sure to comply with these handwashing steps:

  • Moist your fingers with clear, working water.
  • Lather your fingers with cleaning soap.
  • Scrub soapy fingers and fingers totally for no less than 20 seconds. Rinse your fingers below clear, working water.
  • Dry fingers off with a clear towel or air dry them.

Clear and sanitize any surfaces which have touched uncooked turkey and its juices and can later contact meals resembling kitchen counters, sinks, stoves, tabletops, and so forth.

Keep away from Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is the unfold of micro organism from uncooked meat and poultry onto ready-to-eat meals, surfaces, and utensils. One option to keep away from that is through the use of separate reducing boards — one for uncooked meat and poultry, and one other for vegatables and fruits. One USDA  study discovered that sinks are essentially the most contaminated areas of the kitchen. USDA recommends towards washing your uncooked poultry as a result of threat of splashing micro organism all through your kitchen. Clear and sanitize any areas that can come into contact with the turkey earlier than and after cooking.

The Two-Hour Rule

Don’t depart your meals sitting out too lengthy! Refrigerate all perishable meals sitting out at room temperature inside two hours of being cooked, or one hour if the temperature is 90 F or above. After two hours, perishable meals will enter the “Danger Zone” (between 40 F and 140 F), which is the place micro organism can multiply shortly and trigger the meals to turn out to be unsafe. Discard all meals which were unnoticed for greater than two hours. Keep in mind the rule — maintain scorching meals cold and hot meals chilly.

  • Transporting scorching meals — Wrap dishes in insulated containers to maintain their temperature above 140 F.
  • Transporting chilly meals — Place gadgets in a cooler with ice or gel packs to maintain them at or under 40 F.

When serving meals to teams, maintain scorching meals scorching and maintain chilly meals chilly through the use of chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Scorching gadgets ought to stay above 140 F and chilly gadgets ought to stay under 40 F.

Stuffing your Turkey

USDA recommends towards stuffing your turkey since this typically results in micro organism progress. Nonetheless, if you happen to plan to stuff your turkey, comply with these steps:

  • Put together the moist and dry elements for the stuffing individually from one another and refrigerate till prepared to make use of. Combine moist and dry elements simply earlier than filling the chicken’s cavity.
  • Don’t stuff complete poultry and depart within the fridge earlier than cooking.
  • Stuff the turkey loosely — about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound.
  • Instantly place the stuffed, uncooked turkey in an oven set no decrease than 325 F.
  • A stuffed turkey will take longer to prepare dinner. As soon as it has completed cooking, place a meals thermometer within the heart of the stuffing to make sure it has reached a secure inside temperature of 165 F.
  • Let the cooked turkey stand 20 minutes earlier than eradicating the stuffing.

A information to securely roasting turkey

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Recent turkeys: 

  • Enable 1 pound of turkey per particular person.
  • Purchase your turkey only one to 2 days earlier than you intend to prepare dinner it.
  • Maintain it saved within the fridge till you’re able to prepare dinner it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that will leak.
  • Don’t purchase contemporary pre-stuffed turkeys. If not dealt with correctly, any dangerous micro organism which may be within the stuffing can multiply in a short time.

 Frozen turkeys:

  • Enable 1 pound of turkey per particular person.
  • Maintain frozen till you’re able to thaw it.
  • Turkeys may be stored frozen within the freezer indefinitely; nevertheless, prepare dinner inside 1 yr for very best quality.

Frozen pre-stuffed turkeys:

USDA recommends solely shopping for frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that show the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are secure as a result of they’ve been processed below managed circumstances. 

Don’t thaw earlier than cooking. Prepare dinner from the frozen state. Observe bundle instructions for correct dealing with and cooking.

Enable 1¼ kilos of turkey per particular person.

Thawing your turkey

There are 3 ways to thaw your turkey safely — within the fridge, in chilly water, or within the microwave oven.

Within the fridge (40 °F or under):

Enable roughly 24 hours for each 4 to five kilos

  • 4 to 12 pounds1 to three days
  • 12 to 16 pounds3 to 4 days
  • 16 to twenty pounds4 to five days
  • 20 to 24 pounds5 to six days

Maintain the turkey in its unique wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that will leak. A thawed turkey can stay within the fridge for 1 to 2 days. If mandatory, a turkey that has been correctly thawed within the fridge could also be refrozen.

In Chilly Water:

Enable roughly half-hour per pound

  • 4 to 12 pounds2 to six hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds6 to eight hours
  • 16 to twenty pounds8 to 10 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, ensuring the water just isn’t in a position to leak by the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in chilly faucet water. Change the water each half-hour. Prepare dinner the turkey instantly after it’s thawed. Don’t refreeze. 

Within the Microwave Oven:

  • Test your proprietor’s guide for the scale turkey that can slot in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and energy stage to make use of for thawing.
  • Take away all exterior wrapping.
  • Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that will leak.
  • Prepare dinner your turkey instantly. Don’t refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing within the microwave oven.

Take away the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Prepare dinner individually.

Roasting Your Turkey

  • Set your oven temperature no decrease than 325 °F.
  • Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
    For optimum security, stuffing a turkey just isn’t beneficial. For extra even cooking, it is suggested you prepare dinner your stuffing exterior the chicken in a casserole. Use a meals thermometer to verify the interior temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing should attain a secure minimal inside temperature of 165 °F.
  • For those who select to stuff your turkey, the elements may be ready forward of time; nevertheless, maintain moist and dry elements separate. Chill the entire moist elements (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, and so forth.). Combine moist and dry elements simply earlier than filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Prepare dinner the turkey instantly. Use a meals thermometer to verify the middle of the stuffing reaches a secure minimal inside temperature of 165 °F.
  • An entire turkey is secure when cooked to a minimal inside temperature of 165 °F, as measured with a meals thermometer. Test the interior temperature within the innermost a part of the thigh and wing and the thickest a part of the breast. For causes of non-public choice, shoppers could select to prepare dinner turkey to increased temperatures.
  • In case your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is suggested that you simply additionally verify the interior temperature of the turkey within the innermost a part of the thigh and wing and the thickest a part of the breast with a meals thermometer. The minimal inside temperature ought to attain 165 °F for security.
  • For high quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes earlier than carving to permit juices to set. The turkey will carve extra simply.
  • Take away all stuffing from the turkey cavities. 

Timetables for turkey roasting

(325 °F oven temperature)

Use the timetables under to find out how lengthy to prepare dinner your turkey. These occasions are approximate. All the time use a meals thermometer to verify the interior temperature of your turkey and stuffing.


  • 4 to eight kilos (breast)1½ to 3¼ hours
  • 8 to 12 pounds2¾ to three hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds3 to 3¾ hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds3¾ to 4¼ hours
  • 18 to twenty pounds4¼ to 4½ hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds4½ to five hours


  • 4 to six kilos (breast)Not normally relevant
  • 6 to eight kilos (breast)2½ to 3½ hours
  • 8 to 12 pounds3 to 3½ hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds3½ to 4 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds4 to 4¼ hours
  • 18 to twenty pounds4¼ to 4¾ hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds4¾ to 5¼ hours

It’s secure to prepare dinner a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take no less than 50 % longer than beneficial for a completely thawed turkey. Keep in mind to take away the giblet packages throughout the cooking time. Take away fastidiously with tongs or a fork. 

Non-obligatory Cooking Hints

  • Tuck wing ideas below the shoulders of the chicken for extra even cooking. That is known as “akimbo.”
  • Add ½ cup of water to the underside of the pan.
  • In case your roasting pan doesn’t have a lid, it’s possible you’ll place a tent of industrial quality aluminum foil over the turkey for the primary 1 to 1 ½ hours. This enables for optimum warmth circulation, retains the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To forestall overbrowning, foil may additionally be positioned over the turkey after it reaches the specified colour.
  • If utilizing an oven-proof meals thermometer, place it within the turkey in the beginning of the cooking cycle. It would permit you to verify the interior temperature of the turkey whereas it’s cooking. For turkey breasts, place thermometer within the thickest half. For complete turkeys, place within the thickest a part of the internal thigh. As soon as the thigh has reached 165 °F, verify the wing and the thickest a part of the breast to make sure the turkey has reached a secure minimal inside temperature of 165 °F all through the product.
  • If utilizing an oven cooking bag, comply with the producer’s tips on the bundle.

Keep in mind to instantly wash fingers, utensils, the sink, and anything that is available in contact with uncooked turkey and its juices with cleaning soap and water.

Storing Your Leftovers

  • Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy unnoticed at room temperature longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller parts. Refrigerate or freeze in coated shallow containers for faster cooling.
  • Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy inside 3 to 4 days.
  • If freezing leftovers, use inside 2 to six months for very best quality.

Reheating Your Turkey

Cooked turkey could also be eaten chilly or reheated.

Within the Oven:

  • Set the oven temperature no decrease than 325 °F.
  • Reheat turkey to an inside temperature of 165 °F. Use a meals thermometer to verify the interior temperature.
  • To maintain the turkey moist, add a bit broth or water and canopy. 

Within the Microwave Oven:

  • Cowl your meals and rotate it for even heating. Enable standing time.
  • Test the interior temperature of your meals with a meals thermometer to verify it reaches 165 °F.
  • Seek the advice of your microwave oven proprietor’s guide for beneficial occasions and energy ranges.

USDA Hotline

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline will probably be open on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. ET. Customers with questions can name 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), chat live or e mail

Companies can be found in English and Spanish. Main as much as the vacation, customer support representatives on the hotline will probably be obtainable throughout common hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET, Monday by Friday.

Flour Security, Do’s and Don’ts from the FDA


  • Observe instructions on baking combine packages and different flour-containing merchandise for the right cooking occasions and optimum cooking temperature.
  • Maintain flour separated from ready-to-eat meals to keep away from unintentionally consuming uncooked flour.
  • Refrigerate cookie and pastry dough as said by their bundle instructions. Use a fridge thermometer to make sure your equipment is at a secure temperature of 40°F or under for uncooked meals storage.
  • Totally clear your fingers with cleaning soap and working water after dealing with uncooked flour and meals that comprise uncooked flour. Additionally, clear your cooking utensils, counter tops, and provides (bowls, baking pans, reducing boards, and so forth.) with heat, soapy water.


  • Don’t eat or style uncooked dough merchandise or baking combine. The flour throughout the meals merchandise could comprise micro organism that would make you sick.
  • Don’t enable uncooked dough merchandise for use as crafts or play clay. Younger kids typically put their fingers of their mouths, which might introduce dangerous micro organism from uncooked dough into their our bodies and make them sick.
  • Don’t use merchandise that comprise uncooked flour, like cake combine or uncooked batter, to make or eat ready-to-eat merchandise, like milkshakes or ice cream.

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