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USDA food safety resources for Thanksgiving troubles

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Tue, Nov 24th 2015 07:00 am

Editorial by the USDA

Thanksgiving is the largest meal many cooks prepare every year. Its centerpiece - the turkey - is the largest dish most cooks ever encounter, and many are not experienced at roasting one.

USDA wants consumers to know a range of resources, from smartphone apps to its 30-year meat and poultry hotline, exist to help consumers through any food preparation conundrums this holiday season, wherever and whenever they may arise.

"Unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious foodborne illness," said Al Almanza, USDA deputy under secretary for food safety. "USDA's food safety and inspection service has a variety of food safety resources to help with any questions related to preparing Thanksgiving dinner, including our meat and poultry hotline, that will be staffed will helpful experts on Thanksgiving Day."

Cooking Turkey like a Pro

This Thanksgiving, more than 46 million turkeys will be eaten. Cooking the Thanksgiving turkey can be tricky, and trying to figure out when the turkey is done is often the hardest task. But, it doesn't have to be! Impress your family by using a food thermometer to cook like a pro:

  • Place the thermometer, read the temperature, out of the oven.
  • Place the thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.
  • Read the temperature to make sure the bird has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165° F.
  • Take the turkey out of the oven, and serve it to your family.

Planning Ahead

For big Thanksgiving dinners, planning ahead is important. You can assess your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to plan out your meals and your shopping list. When you are trying to figure out if you can use something you already have at home, keep the FoodKeeper application handy.

The FoodKeeper is a mobile application created by FSIS in partnership with The Food Marketing Institute and Cornell University. The FoodKeeper offers storage advice on more than 400 different food and beverage items and can help you decide what you can keep and what you should throw out. It also offers handy guidance on leftovers, which you'll probably have a lot of after the big meal. Download the FoodKeeper on Android and iOS devices.

There Are Real People to Talk To

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, you can call the USDA meat and poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. The hotline has been around for 30 years. Last November, it received more than 3000 calls, mostly about Thanksgiving dinner. One also can chat live with a food safety expert at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

Need help on Thanksgiving Day? The meat and poultry hotline phone line is available from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. ET.

Consumers with more food safety questions can visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. FSIS will provide Thanksgiving food safety information during November on Twitter (@USDAFoodSafety) and on Facebook (at www.Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov).

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