NEWMARKET – York Region Health Services reminds residents that food-borne illness, also known as “food poisoning,” can occur if improper techniques are used when buying, preparing or storing your Thanksgiving turkey.
Follow these food safety tips to reduce the risk of food-borne illness:
Buying a turkey
• Check the “best before” date on fresh turkeys to determine its freshness.
• If buying a frozen turkey, purchase it at least four to six days prior to cooking to allow for sufficient thawing time. Thawing time depends on size of turkey.
• If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before cooking. It should be cold when bought and immediately refrigerated at home at a temperature of 4°C (40°F) or lower.
• At the grocery store, the turkey should be the last item selected before proceeding to the checkout.
• Place the turkey in a separate plastic bag to avoid cross-contaminating other food items in the grocery cart.
Thawing a frozen turkey
• Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter.
• Place the turkey on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, in a large container or on a platter big enough to prevent leaking juices from contaminating other foods.
• Start thawing the turkey in the refrigerator several days before roasting. Allow 24 hours of defrosting time for every 2.5 kg (5 pounds) of turkey (e.g., 5 hours/lb. or 10 hours/kg).
• If thawing turkey in the microwave, cook the turkey immediately after thawing is complete.
Preparing a turkey
• Thoroughly clean your hands, the counter and all utensils before and after preparing the turkey.
• Immediately after preparing the turkey, wash and sanitize the sink, counter tops, utensils and anything else that came in contact with the turkey. Use a mild bleach solution (e.g., 1 tsp./5 ml of household bleach per 4 cups/1 litre water) and rinse with clean water.
• Do not let any juices from the turkey come in contact with other food or food preparation equipment.
Cooking a turkey
• Never slow-cook turkey.
• Set the oven at a minimum of 177° C (350°F) and use a probe thermometer to check that the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 82°C (180°F) before serving.
• The stuffing should reach a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) before eating.
• For whole turkey, near the end of the cooking time, remove the meat from the heat and insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh, making sure the thermometer does not touch any bone. If necessary, continue cooking until the proper temperature has been achieved and the food is safe to eat. Wash the probe thermometer and other utensils you used on raw or partially cooked food items after each use.
• Pre-cooked, stuffed turkey which is purchased hot should be stored in the oven to keep the turkey hot, at least 60°C (140°F) or above and consumed within two hours of purchase. If the turkey is to be consumed more than two hours after purchase, the stuffing should be removed and both it and the bird should be refrigerated to 4°C (40°F) or lower as soon as possible after purchase.
Serving the turkey
• Serve turkey and stuffing immediately. Keep the rest of the turkey and stuffing hot at a minimum temperature of 60°C (140°F) in the oven. Refill empty platters with hot food from the oven.
• Refrigerate leftovers promptly in uncovered, shallow containers so they cool quickly. Once food is cooled, cover and refrigerate.
• Remove turkey meat from the bone. Once cooled, immediately refrigerate meat, stuffing and gravy separately.
• Re-heat leftovers to 74°C (165°F) or higher. Bring gravy to a full, rolling boil and stir during the
• Consume leftovers within two days after cooking.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
• Keep food out of the “danger zone,” which is between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F).
• Keep hot food items hot, at least 60°C (140°F), and keep cold food items cold at 4°C (40°F) or colder.
For more information on safe food handling practices or other health-related topic, please contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York and our services, please visit www.york.ca
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Health Services, York Region
Phone: 905 830-4444 ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell 905 716-2717