HOUSTON (KIAH) — Every year, Americans look forward to enjoying Thanksgiving with family and friends. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still top-of-mind, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds us all that it’s also important to keep family and friends safe from foodborne illness this Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times to remind people about food safety,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I personally know how much effort it takes to prepare a full Thanksgiving meal, and I always ensure I’m following safe food practices like handwashing, using a food thermometer and avoiding cross-contamination.”
By following the tips below, you’ll lessen the chances of having a visit from foodborne illness — an unwelcome visitor — at your table this Thanksgiving.
How to thaw the Thanksgiving turkey safely
Never thaw a turkey on a counter or in hot water. USDA recommends thawing a turkey in a refrigerator since this allows for slow and safe thawing. The turkey will need about 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. After thawing, it is safe to store in the refrigerator for one to two days. Turkey can also be thawed in a cold-water bath or microwave; however, it must be cooked immediately after it has thawed using these methods. If using the cold-water method, allow 30 minutes per pound and submerge the turkey in its original wrapping to avoid cross-contamination. It’s safe to cook a turkey from its frozen state; however, it will take at least 50 percent longer to fully thaw. Lastly, never leave a raw turkey out at room temperature for more than two hours.