SANTA MONICA, CA – Nothing ruins Thanksgiving faster than food poisoning.
Properly preparing your turkey or side dishes is critical to making sure your Thanksgiving is memorable for all the right reasons. The Los Angeles County Health Department offered tips on how to cook a turkey just right to avoid upset stomach.
When cooking with food – especially raw meat – wash your hands before and after touching the ingredients. Fresh products should be washed before consumption, and food prep plates like cutting boards and utensils should be washed between each use, the department said.
Raw and undercooked meat presents a particular challenge to prepare as it can contain bacteria that can cause diarrhea and other problems, the public health said in a press release. Therefore, they should be handled separately from other foods.
Fresh turkeys should be cooked within a day or two of purchase and purchased without pre-filling, the department said.
Frozen turkeys should be thawed in their original packaging in the refrigerator to allow for 24 hours per 5 pounds of thawing. Turkeys can also be thawed in cold water, but this method is much more time consuming: the department recommends changing the water every 30 minutes and allowing for 30 minutes per pound.
Once you’ve thawed a turkey, there’s no going back – the department says no to refreezing an already thawed turkey.
Pre-cooked and raw turkeys must cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the meal is ready, the leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator within two hours and eaten within four days.