Safe Cooking Tips for Turkey

By CNN News Wire

Published 11/27 2013 06:10AM

Updated 11/27 2013 06:16AM

Thanksgiving dinner - a time for family, friends and of course, turkey.  Whether you are a gourmet chef or a turkey novice, cooking the bird properly is key to a healthy holiday.

When preparing a turkey, you need to be aware of four safety issues: Thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to adequate temperature. Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The "danger zone" is between 40 and 140°f - the temperature range where food-borne bacteria multiply rapidly-- so let it thaw in the refrigerator-- not out on the counter.

When it comes to cooking the turkey, set the oven temperature no lower than 325°f  check the internal temperature as you cook it.  It must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165-degrees Fahrenheit. 

"My recommendation is that you really buy a two or three dollar meat thermometer, digital preferred and you use that as your test to make sure that  you are in the temperature range," suggests Mike Folino, a registered dietitian at OSU-Wexner Medical Center.

And make sure you check the temperature in the correct spot. 

"You are probably going to check right in between the leg and cavity of the body and also in the thickest part of the breast," Folino points out.
Once the meal is over, don't leave the food out for more than two hours and make sure the leftovers are stored in the refrigerator.   But remember, their shelf life is short.

"You don't keep the turkey more than three to four days."

All helpful turkey tips for a healthy, happy holiday.

(Holly Firfer for CNN's Health Minute)

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