Safe Holiday Cooking Techniques
It's not just restaurant meals: Home cooking can also cause food-related illnesses. Here's how to safeguard your delicious Thanksgiving feast.
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Before You Start
- Wash your hands with plenty of soap and warm water before, during, and after handling food.
- To prevent bacteria-laden raw turkey juices from dripping on and contaminating other foods in the refrigerator, put the bird in a plastic bag and place it on a plate or tray on the lowest shelf.
- Bacteria can also grow in a frozen bird if it is left to thaw in a warm room. Instead, defrost turkey in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave. The refrigerator takes the longest: 24 hours for every five pounds (2 1/2 days for a 12-pound bird). To thaw in cold water, submerge the turkey in a leak-proof bag, changing the water every half hour to make sure the water stays cold enough to keep the bird fresh. Figure on 30 minutes per pound (6 hours for that 12-pounder). If you use a microwave (6 minutes per pound on medium to low power -- check owner's manual for proper setting), roast immediately after thawing. Some parts may have become warm enough to encourage the growth of bacteria.
- You don't have to rinse a turkey before cooking because heat kills bacteria. If you'd still rather run water over it, wash all splatters on the sink, faucets and counters with hot, soapy water to avoid contaminating other food.
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