Two recommendations for your Thanksgiving turkey

Two USDA recommendations are very important to know when preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry.

Two recommendations for your Thanksgiving turkey

Two important poultry recommendations were revealed in 2007. The recommendations were and still are:

  1. Stop rinsing your raw turkey before cooking it
  2. Cook all poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit 

For years we were told that we should be rinsing our turkeys and any raw poultry product before cooking it. Then in 2007 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service eliminated the recommendation for washing raw meat and poultry, including raw turkey, before placing it in the oven.

Many people had gotten into the habit of rinsing their raw poultryunder running water, including that precious Thanksgiving turkey. However eliminating this step reduces the risk of cross contamination from rinse water being splashed around the sink and on the adjoining counter and anything on the counter. The heat during the roasting process will kill any bacteria that could make us sick. 

That year of 2007 the USDA also adjusted the cooked temperature for all poultry products to 165 degrees Ferhenheit. Previous to 2007, the USDA recommended different temperatures for poultry parts such as breasts, thighs, and wings.

So how do you know if your turkey is cooked to 165 degrees F? The only sure way to tell if your bird is cooked to 165 degree F is by using a food thermometer. Food thermometers are inexpensive and can be purchased at grocery, hardware, kitchenware, discount and department stores. Many turkeys have a red pop-up-temperature indicator which pops up when the turkey is completely cooked. Even if your turkey has one of these pop-up temperature indicators you should still check the internal temperature of the turkey in the thigh and in the thickest part of the breast to make sure that it has reached 165 degrees F.

In summary, Michigan State University Extension recommends you do not rinse your Thanksgiving turkey, which wasn’t always a real easy task anyway. Also know that cooking your turkey to 165 degrees F assures that it will be juicy and safe to eat, if it was handled properly before cooking. 

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