Downright unsafe ways to cook your turkey – Part 2

Cooking the holiday bird in a bag is nothing new. It is important to know that there are safe and unsafe bags.

Unique regional methods of preparing holiday birds can be downright unsafe. These unique methods are designed to tantalize the senses and produce the perfect turkey – moist breast meat, tender legs and thighs, golden brown skin and memorable flavor.

Michigan State University Extension food safety wants you to have a safe, nutritious and delicious bird for your holiday meals. Two of these unsafe, non-traditional methods are cooking turkey in a brown paper bag or trash bag. Alternative resources can be used to make them safe.

Brown paper bag method

This method involves placing the turkey in a grocery type brown paper bag and cooking the bird at a very low temperature. Brown paper bags were never intended to be used for cooking. The glue, ink, chemicals and other materials used in recycling grocery bags may give off poisonous fumes. Paper grocery type bags are not sanitary and may cause a fire. Intense heat may cause a bag to ignite, causing a fire in the oven and ruining the turkey.

Make it safe – Replace the brown bag with a turkey-size oven-cooking bag. A whole turkey is done and safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the inner most part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Trash bag method

A whole turkey is placed in a large trash bag and marinated in salt brine, herbs and spices for several hours at room temperature. It is never recommended to use non-food grade materials as holding containers for food. Chemicals and non-food colors may leach into the food. MSU Extension, along with the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service recommends marinating meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

Make it safe – Replace the trash bag with a large oven-cooking bag. Refrigerate the turkey during the marinating process and the results will be safe and delicious.

The moral of this article is: If you choose to cook your holiday bird in a bag – make sure it is food grade commercial cooking bag; then you know it is safe for you and your family.

For more information on preparing turkeys read Downright unsafe ways to cook your turkey – Part 1.

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