Don't Wash the Turkey! And Other Food Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner
After toiling away over a hot stove for an entire day, the last thing you want to serve your guests is a side of food poisoning.
To keep the bacteria at bay, NC State University put together a series of videos with simple food safety tips that should help minimize the risk of illness.
We've compiled some of the highlights, but encourage you to watch the full series.
Thawing a frozen turkey in the sink, microwave or counter all come with risks. Bacteria from the turkey can contaminate your sink, which would then need thorough cleaning. Turkeys thawed in the microwave may cook unevenly and should be put in the oven immediately. Counter thawing requires temperature monitoring because the outside of the turkey could begin to get warm while the inside remains frozen. Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator will help it stay at a cool temperature, but may require three to five days depending on the size.
No matter how a frozen turkey is defrosted, make sure you use a dish or pan to contain the juices that will pool as a result. Scissors or knives that are used to cut the wrapping should be washed and sanitized.
Don't wash the turkey!
Washing the turkey is still a fairly common practice, but NCSU professor and food safety specialist Ben Chapman said washing won't get rid of salmonella or campylobacter and could cause bacteria to spread to your sink and surfaces up to three feet away. Chapman said that if you feel you have to clean the surface of the turkey, do so by patting it down with a paper towel that can be immediately disposed of.
Use a separate cutting board and cutlery for cutting raw meat, and fruits and vegetables. As far as wood versus plastic cutting boards, Chapman said they're about the same in terms of harboring germs. Plastic, though, can be placed directly in the dishwasher rather than requiring a wash in the sink, like wood.
When checking for doneness, digital thermometers offer a faster and more accurate read than a dial thermometer. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the meat away from the bones. Since turkeys tend to cook unevenly, check the temperature in multiple places. It should hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The longer leftovers stay out on the counter, the more likely bacteria will begin to grow. Put everything in plastic bags, which allows you to press out all the air. Don't worry about letting your mash potatoes cool. Today's refrigerators are able to handle hot foods well.
Cooking grease should never be disposed of down the drain. Grease buildup is one of the biggest causes of clogged pipes. When too many people pour grease down the drain, it builds up in your town or city's sanitation infrastructure, leading to blown pipes and sewer overflows. Grease should be collected in a heavy plastic or glass container, which can be thrown out. Some public and private sanitation providers will collect used cooking grease during the holidays.
Toxic Chemicals in Fast Food Packages Can Seep Into Your Food
Counting calories is no longer the only worry consumers may have about fast food. Environmental group Silent Spring Institute has released a new study that claims that the greaseproof packaging holding some fast food products may contain possibly dangerous fluorinated chemicals that can seep into your food.
You Really Should be Cleaning Reusable Grocery Bags to Stay Healthy
Do you use reusable grocery bags? If you are like many consumers, chances are that you have taken advantage of these heavy duty bags to reduce plastic bag waste in landfills, increase the amount of groceries you can carry, or any combination of factors. But did you know that failing to clean these bags regularly can put your health at risk?
Consumer Tips: Food Safety Practices for When Your Power Goes Out
Any time your power goes out due to high winds, snow/ice, a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, flood, fire, or any other electrical failure, the safety of the food inside your refrigerator and freezer is immediately jeopardized. Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep it safe will help you minimize the potential loss of food to spoilage and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Going Grocery Shopping? Save Money Using These Tips That Stores Don't Tell You About.
Bargain hunters already save money regularly by cutting coupons and shopping during sales. However, there are many other ways consumers can save money when shopping—ways that stores don't tell them about. Combining these shopping strategies with coupons and sales may help you save as much as possible!