About this time every year, Wisconsin Poison Center begins to see a spike in calls related to food poisoning. Did you know it’s one of the most common illnesses in the U.S., costing between $5 billion and $17 billion in medical care and lost productivity?
Unfortunately, turkey is a prime source for salmonella poisoning. There are many simple ways you can protect yourself and your guests from food poisoning this holiday season.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking Thanksgiving (or any) dinner is handling the raw turkey, then preparing the next menu item without washing their hands properly and/or using the same cooking utensils without sanitizing them.
One of the most common questions we get is, “What’s the best way to defrost my turkey?” The only safe way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. Allow one day in the refrigerator for every 5 lbs of bird. If you use a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes. A 20 lb. turkey will take 12 hours to defrost in cold water. Turkeys thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately because conditions cannot be strictly temperature controlled.
and please, never defrost a turkey at room temperature.
Callers often ask about cooking temperature. Be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the turkey’s label. Cook time depends on the bird’s size. If you stuff the turkey, don’t forget to remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey comes out of the oven.
Another common question is how long can you keep leftovers? We recommend throwing turkey out after three or four days and using gravy and stuffing within one to two days.
For more tips to help safely cook a turkey and store leftovers, check out our Web site.
Food poisoning takes several hours to develop. If you get sick soon after dinner, it probably isn’t food poisoning. However, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call Wisconsin Poison Center any day, any time – even on Thanksgiving – at 1-800-222-1222.
Happy Thanksgiving from Wisconsin Poison Center!