Countdown to Thanksgiving: Turkey Safety

Get the thermometers ready: Buy a food thermometer if you don’t already have one. A cooked whole turkey is safe at a minimum internal temperature of 165 F throughout the bird and stuffing. If you’re thawing the turkey in the refrigerator, we also recommend using a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the temperature is no higher than 40 F.

Answers to Your Turkey Questions 

Q. How long does it take to thaw a frozen turkey? 
A. The safest way to thaw a turkey is to put it in the refrigerator at a safe temperature (40 F) during thawing. Allow one day for each 5 lbs of weight to thaw the turkey, plus an extra day or two. A twenty pound turkey will take about 4 days to thaw. After it has thawed, it is safe for another two days.

Q. How can I tell when the turkey is done?
A. Whether you roast, brine, deep fry or smoke your turkey, always use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. You won’t overcook your turkey, and you can ensure it has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing must also reach 165 °F.

Q. How long does it take to cook a turkey?
A. Use the turkey roasting chart to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate and based on fresh or thawed birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below.

Q. Is it safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state?
A. Yes, the cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet package during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.

For more information on turkeys, check out these resources:


Courtesy of FoodSafety.Gov


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