Thanksgiving is here and that means it’s time to overindulge on turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie, but the last thing you want to include in your festivities is a salmonella outbreak. Whole turkeys can take quite some time to cook and it may be difficult to achieve safe temperatures while keeping the meat moist and flavorful. This week, we’ll look into what food safety training recommends to cook a tasty turkey without a side of foodborne illness.
Food Safety Training tips for Properly Cooking Whole Turkeys
Whole turkeys can be tricky to cook properly because of the thickness of the breast. One part of the turkey can be cooked perfectly, but the center can be left an undercooked breeding ground for bacteria. In order to prevent this scenario, we have three food safety training tips for a properly cooked turkey:
- Use fresh or fully thawed birds
- Check internal temperature properly
- Prepare stuffing separately
Partially thawed turkeys are a food safety nightmare. While the outer layers may feel thawed and ready to cook, the center of the thickest parts of the bird may still be frozen. This can add to the cooking time of larger turkeys. It can also result in vastly overcooked outer layers while still leaving the thickest section undercooked. Half-thawed birds may also cause complications when attempting to gauge the internal temperature. Outer layers may reach the proper temperature of 165-degrees well before the center, throwing off your thermometer’s readings for the innermost layers.
Many commercially sold turkeys come with a small probe that will supposedly let you know when your bird has reached a safe serving temperature. Our advice to you would be to remove this probe before cooking and place in the nearest garbage receptacle. The only accurate way to assess the internal temperature of large turkeys is to use a bi-metallic stem thermometer. Insert your probe thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast as deep as possible without touching any bones. If your thermometer reads 165 degrees for at least 15 seconds, you can be confident that your turkey has been fully cooked.
One final note concerning food safety training for turkey stuffing. Stuffing your turkey before cooking will increase the amount of time that it takes to fully cook your turkey and pose a salmonella risk. There is a very real possibility that your stuffing will not reach a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria at the same time as the rest of your turkey, so we strongly suggest you cook your stuffing separately.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at !