Four tried and true top turkey tips

The average household will spend $54.18 on their Thanksgiving meal in 2014. Turkey is the main meat at Thanksgiving and the average 2014 cost is $1.15 per pound, so it is smart money management to handle this holiday meat safely.

America is a turkey loving nation not only during Thanksgiving, but the rest of the year too. The United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) Statistics Service states that there are 248 million turkeys raised in the U.S. each year and 51 million are consumed on Thanksgiving Day alone. With such a large number of turkeys being eaten, Michigan State University Extension offers you four food safety tips to help you safely serve turkey to your friends and family.

1. Do not wash your turkey

In 2008 the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection service eliminated the recommendation for washing raw meat and poultry, including raw turkey, before putting it in the oven.

Eliminating the step of rinsing turkey reduces the risk of cross-contamination from the rinse water being splashed around the sink, on the nearby counter, dishes or utensils or anything in the area where the water could be splashed. Little droplets of water can splash in places that are not even visible. Then again, there are some bacteria that are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed your turkey

2. Cook your turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Pop-up temperature devices have been used in turkeys and roasting chickens since 1965. The “pop-up” temperature devices are constructed from a food approved nylon. The inside contains a stainless steel spring and firing material. The firing material is made of an organic salt compound or an alloy of metals commonly used in other thermo-sensing devices. The tip of the stem is inserted in the firing material until it melts, releasing the stem, which then pops up by means of the spring. Pop-up timers are reliable within one to two degrees if accurately placed in a food. The pop-up timer is a good indication that your turkey is done. It is then time to get out your food thermometer and check the temperature in both the thigh and the breast.

4. Turkey meat can be pink when it is fully cooked. There are a variety of reasons for pink turkey meat.

  • The atmosphere of a gas or electric oven can react chemically with hemoglobin in the meat tissues to give poultry a pink tinge.
  • The natural presence of nitrates and nitrites, either in the feed or water supply, used in the production of poultry are a factor in nitrite levels in the birds.
  • Often meat of younger birds shows the most pink because their thinner skins permit oven gases to reach the flesh. The amount of fat in the skin also affects the amount of pink color. Young birds or animals also lack the shield of a fat covering.
  • The meat of commercially smoked turkeys is usually pink because it is prepared with natural smoke and liquid smoke flavor.

Considering the average American eats 16 pounds of turkey a year it is worthy of our time to make sure we are making, and keeping turkey safe to eat.

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