Gearing up for the big day: Thanksgiving edition

Get ready, friends –Thanksgiving is almost here.

Soon, turkeys will be roasting, pies will be baking and there will be enough dinner rolls to fill an amusement park-style ball pit. Green bean casserole will come out of hiding as will cranberry sauce, and the pièce de résistance (in this humble blogger’s opinion) of the meal – the heavenly substance known as stuffing.

There’s a lot of work that goes into fixing the family favorites and traditional Thanksgiving treats. But, as with any meal, food safety is critically important. Thanksgiving memories shouldn’t include that one time when Aunt Petunia got everyone sick by washing the raw turkey next to the pumpkin pie. Here are some tips and tricks to help avoid any feast-ruining foodborne illness.

  • For the love of Thanksgiving, don’t wash the turkey. According to a study cited by USA Today, washing raw poultry in the sink can fling bacteria up to three feet. Think about what is within three feet of the sink – prepared foods, other ingredients, high traffic surfaces.
  • While we’re talking turkey, ensure the bird is cooked to 165°F (yes, that means using a thermometer. Color alone isn’t a good indicator that the bird is cooked to a safe temperature).
  • Avoid cross-contamination (e.g., using the same utensils, cutting boards, etc. for raw meat as is used for other items, especially items that won’t be cooked). Ensure these items are properly washed before changing up food items.
  • Thawing a turkey? Place it in the fridge (40°F is a safe temperature). It takes about one day for every 5 lbs. of turkey. Once it’s thawed, it’s safe for roughly two more days in the fridge, according to
  • Food should not be left out for more than 2 hours (1 hour for temperatures higher than 90°F).
  • Clean kitchen work surfaces, especially if exposed to raw meat and egg.
  • Hold off on licking the spoon. Sure, dessert batter or dough may be delicious but if it contains egg it may also harbor pathogens such as Salmonella. (For food safety tips on baking and pies, click here.)

From all of us at Neogen, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

For more turkey and Thanksgiving safety tips, check out the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection website here.

For some Thanksgiving trivia, check out this article from Yahoo. Quick quiz: how many calories does the average person consumed during a Thanksgiving meal? Answer: Roughly 3,000 – 5,000.

Need some last minute recipes or inspiration? Check out these ideas from Food Network.

Comments are closed.