Tips for Safe Thanksgiving
For many family cooks, stuffing the Thanksgiving Day Turkey is tradition.
But another reminder is coming this year from the USDA that cooking the dressing inside the bird is not a good idea.
Janell Goodwin with the Agriculture Department’s Meat and Poultry Hotline says the risk to get that super moist stuffing is too great.
“Goodwin: For optimum safety we do not recommend stuffing the turkey. As you’re waiting for the center of the stuffing to reach 165 degrees, usually the outside of the turkey has already reached that temperature. So you’re risking over cooking your turkey, you’re also risking under cooking your stuffing.”
For a moist evenly cooked turkey and delicious dressing, it’s best to cook the two separately.
Some cooks cover the vegetables that go in the dressing as they cook to trap all their moisture and flavor. Others add generous dose of melted butter, and a bit of stock, white wine, or milk. In other stuffings, the moisture from added fruit or other additions can also help keep it from becoming too dry.
The Centers for Disease Control says that about 48 million people will become ill by some form of food related illness this year. It says a good number of those will come down with food related illness after Thanksgiving. Sometimes that’s due to undercooking the stuffing or the bird and other times its because the turkey is allowed to set outside the oven after cooking for too long. Bacteria grows rapidly after a two hour window. The recommendation is to cut the large pieces of meat off the bone so that it can cool quickly and store in the refrigerator soon after dinner.
For folks who have any questions about safe food preparations for the holiday meal, can call the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline number, 888-MPHOTLINE(888-674-5463). You can also go online to Ask.USDA.gov.