Home 5 Ag Stories USDA has hotline for cooking help today

USDA has hotline for cooking help today

By Ben Nuelle

Today the number one goal across the nation is to not burn the turkey. Don’t worry first-timers and self-proclaimed experts there’s a hotline for help.

This thanksgiving 46 million turkeys will be eaten. The USDA wants you to know they are here to help and provide a range of resources. They come from smartphone apps to its Meat and Poultry Hotline, exist to help consumers through any food preparation conundrums this holiday season, wherever and whenever they may arise.

Kristina Beaugh is with the Food Safety Education staff at the USDA. She says this hotline has been around for 30 years.

Beaugh2: “It’s a hotline that has six food safety specialists on it. Their backgrounds range from microbiology, home economics to food science and nursing. They’re available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. Eastern time at 1 (888) MP-Hotline, 1-888-674-6854. They are actually open on Thanksgiving day probably the only federal government workers who are working on Thanksgiving. They are open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00p.m. Eastern time,” Beaugh said.

Beaugh said the main thing people should be aware of is cooking the turkey properly.

“Often the turkey is the largest meat anyone has every cooked throughout the year. Between new cooks and experienced cooks, there are a lot of mistakes people can make causing their family and guests to get food borne illness. It is really important that you handle, prepare, and cook the turkey properly to avoid food borne illness,” Beaugh said.

She said one in six Americans get food borne illness every year.

“That’s 48 million people a year. Out of that number 3,000 people actually die from food-borne illness so people actually die so it is a pretty serious thing. Healthy people like us who have healthy immune systems it’s not a big deal. We might get an upset stomach or feel a little nauseous but after a few hours we’re ok. For young children, older adults, people with cancer, pregnant women or people who have weakened immune systems it’s a really big deal because their bodies cannot fight off the infection.

For any questions call the meat and poultry hotline at (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert.