Top 5 Thanksgiving Safety Tips

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many of us are already looking forward to feasting with our friends and family. Between the turkey, casseroles, and pies, we all plan to gobble, gobble ‘til we wobble. But we need to be cautious when preparing and handling food to prevent food-borne illnesses and accidental injuries. Here’s some food handling safety tips for this Thanksgiving.

Create a Safe Kitchen

Germs that can cause food-borne illnesses, can survive in many places in your kitchen. Before you begin cooking, clean and disinfect all surfaces that food may come into contact with, including counter tops, cutting boards, and cooking utensils.

Burns and cuts are among the most common injuries during Thanksgiving. Make sure your home is stocked with a family first aid kit that is easily accessible when needed.

Thaw and Cook Your Turkey Safely

It’s important to properly handle and cook poultry in order to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading.

Don’t leave your turkey on the counter to defrost. When left at room temperature, the turkey will reach the “danger zone” (40°F -140°F) where bacteria can grow rapidly after just two hours. Instead, thaw your turkey safely by either putting it in a container in the refrigerator, or a leak-proof plastic bag in the sink with cold water (change the water every 30 minutes).

Cook Your Turkey Safely at 325°F or higher until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F.

Wash hands thoroughly.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

With so many dishes to cook, cross-contamination can slip your mind. Make sure to clean and disinfect your hands, utensils and other surfaces after handling the turkey or other poultry dishes before moving onto the next.

Consider cooking your stuffing separately with a casserole dish instead of inside the turkey. This will ensure the stuffing is thoroughly cooked and prevent it from soaking up harmful bacteria from the turkey.

Safely Transport Food

If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving, make sure all of your dishes are secure and aren’t at risk of injuring your passengers (your partner’s lap isn’t the best spot for a hot casserole). Invest in travel-friendly cookware or strategically use storage containers to safely secure food in the trunk or on the floorboards. Pack food items in a cooler with ice if you plan on being on the road for more than an hour.

Store Leftovers Correctly

Thanksgiving leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving. To ensure your leftovers are safe and ready to eat, be sure to:

  • Store them within two hours of cooking.
  • Divide them into small portions in shallow containers. This helps them to cool down to a safe temperature quicker, which prevents bacteria from multiplying.
  • Eat refrigerated Thanksgiving leftovers within 3-4 days or transfer them to the freezer.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Bon Appetite! 

Credit: EMS Safety

Frying a turkey? Check out these safe frying tips: 

  • Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
  • Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
  • Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
  • Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use.
  • Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
  • Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
  • Never leave fryers unattended.
  • Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
  • Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
  • Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep an "ABC" or grease-rated fire extinguisher close by. Do not to use water or a garden hose on a fire related to Turkey Fryers.
  • Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  • Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
  • Opt for an oil-less fryer. This uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey.