How do you safely handle a turkey?

Follow these simple food safety guidelines:

  • Thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator or cold water.
  • Keep thawed or fresh turkey in the refrigerator.
  • Prevent uncooked juices from dripping onto other foods in the refrigerator by placing packaged turkey on a tray.
  • Thawed turkey may be kept in the refrigerator up to four days before cooking.
  • Roast fresh turkey as soon as possible, but no later than the Use By date on the package.
  • Place raw poultry on non-porous surfaces; these are easy to clean. It is recommended to use two cutting boards, one strictly to cut raw meats and the other for cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Cutting boards should be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water after each use and allowed to air dry or dried with fresh paper towels.
  • Use paper towels, not cloth, to wipe off turkey and clean up juices.
  • Combine stuffing ingredients and stuff turkey just before roasting, not the night before.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces and utensils touched by raw poultry and its juices with hot, soapy water and disinfectant.
  • Use cooking methods that allow the turkey to reach an internal temperature of 140°F in less than four hours and a final temperature of 180°F in the thigh. If stuffed, the stuffing should reach 165°F. Avoid using low roasting temperatures or partial cooking methods.
  • Use a meat thermometer to determine turkey’s doneness.
  • Store turkey, stuffing, gravy, broth and other leftover cooked foods in separate containers in the refrigerator within two hours after cooking.