Just in Time for Thanksgiving, USDA Resources for Safe Holiday Cooking

Just in Time for Thanksgiving, USDA Resources for Safe Holiday Cooking

In about a week millions of Americans will be preparing Thanksgiving dinner. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that about 46 million turkeys will be cooked and eaten.

What you don't want to serve is a side of bacteria that could potentially make your family and friends sick. To help avoid that sticky situation, the USDA provides a variety of resources dedicated to food safety.

For smartphone junkies, there's the FoodKeeper mobile app. Created last year by the department's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food Marketing Institute and Cornell University, the app offers storage and cooking advice for more than 400 food and beverage items. It also helps you with storing leftovers after that big meal.

The planning took also helps you assess your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to help plan out your meals and your shopping list.

If you would rather speak to a real live human being, you can call the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854), which has been around for the past 30 years. Last November it received more than 3,000 calls mostly about Thanksgiving dinner. On Thanksgiving Day, the phone line is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A food safety expert is also available via live chat on your computer at AskKaren.gov.

The easiest way to avoid foodborne illness is to make sure your turkey is cooked properly. To do this, place a meat thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Once all spots have reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, take it out of the oven.

If you don't have a digital meat thermometer, pick one up before you get cooking. Those little pop-up thermometers can't be trusted since all parts of the turkey cook at different temperatures.

For more food safety information, visit the USDA website.