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Don't make your family sick: Thanksgiving food safety

GTCC Chef-Instructor Alan Romano joined us to answer your food safety questions.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — As many people know, Thanksgiving dinner can go wrong quickly if the proper safety measures aren't taken. GTCC Chef-Instructor Alan Romano joined us to answer your food safety questions. 

Food Safety Tips For Thanksgiving:

  • Distance and ventilation can help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Wearing masks when indoors can prevent the spread of the virus and keeping gatherings small or limited to just members of your household can also help.
  • Avoid serving Thanksgiving buffet-style this year. Instead, designate someone to plate up the meal for all the guests.
  • Expand the cooking outside the kitchen.
  • While disposable plates, bowls, flatware, napkins, service ware, and drinkware certainly make cleanup easier, they also help keep things sanitary by eliminating cross-contact.
  • Make sure leftovers are put away within four hours and cooled down to 70 degrees before putting them in the refrigerator. Your food has a 6-hour window to go down from cooking temperature (165 degrees) to below 41 degrees. Two hours to 70 degrees, then it is safe to put in the refrigerator then four hours to get to below 41 degrees. If your refrigerator is working properly, it should not be a problem.
  • Leftovers should be discarded after seven days.
  • Turkey, stuffing, dressing, should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees and it should be tempted in the thickest part of the thigh.
  • Brining your turkey in saltwater, herbs, and spices in cooler with ice (below 41 degrees) will help draw out the impurities, give it more flavor and make it tender.

Thawing turkey and other meats should ONLY be done one of these three ways:

  • Placing it in the refrigerator several days prior to cooking (Best way)
  • Placing in a clean sink with cold running water, (NOT HOT WATER)
  • Place in microwave on defrost, that’s only if it going to be cooked right away! (I don’t recommend that way because it makes the meat tough).

How to Carve Turkey

  • First, make sure your knife is sharp!
  • Allow your cooked turkey to rest for about 20 minutes so juices don't escape before starting to carve.
  • Remove legs and thighs.
  • Then beginning halfway up the breast, slice straight down with an even stroke.
  • When the knife reaches the cut above the wing joint, the slice should fall free on its own.
  • Continue to slice breast meat by starting the cut at a higher point each time.
  • You can also remove the breast from the carcass and slice it on a cutting board.

When in doubt call the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line

Call 1-800-288-8372 or text 844-877-3456 to chat with turkey experts. You can also go online.