South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Safety first when preparing, storing Thanksgiving Dinner


November 20, 2007

The Allegheny County Health Department is offering food safety tips to help ensure that families enjoy a safe and wholesome meal for the Thanksgiving holiday.

For those who have any questions about food safety while preparing their holiday meal on Thanksgiving Day, these tips are also available by visiting the Health Department's web site at

When Purchasing Food

• Do not purchase foods stored above the load line in open refrigerators or freezers.

• Position raw meat and poultry in your cart so it does not contaminate other food.

• Check expiration dates to assure freshness of meats, produce and dairy products.

When Handling & Preparing Food

• Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food.

• Before and after each use, clean food preparation surfaces with soap and hot water and then sanitize with a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water.

• Clean and sanitize all knives and utensils before and after each use.

• Thaw foods in the refrigerator or in cold water that is changed every 30 minutes.

• Never thaw foods at room temperature or in standing water, where bacteria multiply rapidly.

• When thawing a turkey in the refrigerator, allow one day for every 4 or 5 pounds.

• When thawing a turkey in cold water, allow 30 minutes for every pound.

When Cooking Food

• Cook foods thoroughly. Turkey and stuffing should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, and may be cooked to an even higher temperature to satisfy personal preferences.

• Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, inserting it into both the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

• Don't partially cook a turkey the night before. Cook it continuously, without interruptions.

• Stuff your turkey immediately before roasting, never the night before.

• Cook stuffing separately for maximum safety and to avoid overcooking your turkey.

• While cooking or serving, don't use the same spoon for tasting and preparation.

• Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees or until hot and steaming.

When Storing Food

• Refrigerate leftovers as promptly as possible, no later than two hours after serving.

• Cut the turkey into smaller pieces after cooking so it can cool more quickly and safely.


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