Here are four food safety tips to help make sure you don’t end up with food poisoning on Thanksgiving, or from eating leftovers . . .
1. Don’t rinse the turkey before you cook it. Any salmonella that’s on there won’t be a problem as long as you cook it long enough. Washing poultry just sprays the bacteria around the sink and makes you MORE likely to get sick.
2. Don’t defrost it at room temperature. The only safe ways to do it are in the refrigerator, the microwave, or a bucket of cold water while the turkey’s still wrapped in plastic. The refrigerator is the safest, but takes a few days. The bucket of water method takes about 30 minutes per pound.
3. Don’t just trust the red pop-up timer that comes with the turkey. Also use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s done. Test the three thickest areas . . . the inner thigh, the wing, and the thickest part of the breast. They should all be at least 165 degrees.
4. Don’t store food outside, even if it’s freezing out. Some people end up with a full refrigerator, and put the overflow outside in plastic containers. Which SEEMS safe if it’s freezing out. But plastic tupperware can heat up really fast if the sun hits it.
5. Don’t eat leftover turkey more than four days after Thanksgiving. That’s when things start to get dicey. So either eat it all within four days, or freeze what’s left. It’ll stay good for up to four months in the freezer.