Saturday, November 23, 2013


Thanksgiving is a very important holiday in America, and for most families, that means a big turkey dinner. You hope to enjoy the occasion and leave your guests with pleasant memories. So the last thing you want is to give everyone at your table a case of food poisoning.

Turkey, like chicken, usually carries bacteria or “germs” in its raw state. Some are harmless, others such as certain Salmonella, E.coli, Campylobacter or Staphylococcus, can give you food poisoning if you get enough of them.

However, turkey meat it is perfectly safe to eat if you cook it well, which will kill those bacteria. So one of the main risks to avoid with your turkey dinner is undercooked turkey. Another is contaminating other foods which will be eaten raw (such as salads) with raw or partly-cooked turkey. A third risk with that turkey dinner applies primarily to the cook – handling the raw turkey carelessly while preparing it.

Often all three risks are increased if you plan to barbecue the turkey. I was reminded of this today when my hairdresser, while cutting my hair, talked about how she was going to barbecue hers. So if this also what you will be doing with your turkey, you may want to keep the below precautions in mind. Most also apply to oven-roasted turkey.

• If using frozen turkey, make sure it is perfectly thawed before you start to cook it (see next post.)
• If barbecuing it, you would be safer cooking the stuffing separately.
• If you are using a charcoal barbecue, make sure the coals are very hot before you start.
• Keep turning the turkey while it cooks.
• Make sure that the juices of the uncooked or partly cooked turkey do not ooze out onto something else you are barbecuing, such as vegetables.
• Use a meat thermometer as well as visual checking to make sure the meat is cooked throughout to 165 F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and the inside of the thigh. When checking the turkey visually, remember that turkey meat can remain pink even when it is fully cooked. Smoked turkey meat is always pink. Younger birds also tend to show most pink.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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