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USDA food safety hotline available for Thanksgiving Day

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Thanksgiving is only a week away. Hard to believe that 2020 has passed by so fast while we have been living virtually for these past months. Family gatherings may look a little different for you this year, but many people still intend to celebrate. If this year’s pandemic has you cooking the feast for the first time, or even if you are an old pro, remember this; food poisoning really puts a damper on the holidays.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stands ready to assist you with all your Thanksgiving meal prep and food safety questions.

Audio: Full interview with USDA’s Meredith Carothers.

Meredith Carothers is a Technical Information Specialist with the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. She talks about the four basic food safety steps to have a successful Thanksgiving feast. They are:

  1. Clean surfaces, utensils, and hands.
  2. Separate your turkey from other foods to prevent cross-contamination
  3. Cook your turkey to a safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. Chill your leftovers as quickly as possible to prevent bacteria growth.

A common question about turkey preparation is knowing when it is really done. Many people seem to rely on the pop thermometer that is in each turkey. However, Carothers says it is wise to check the turkey in three specific places.

  1. The thickest part of the breast
  2. Inner-most spot of the wing
  3. Inner-most spot of the thigh

Leftover storage is the next critical area of preventing food-borne illnesses at Thanksgiving. Carothers shares tips on making sure you get the most life out of your leftovers while keeping your family safe.

If you have other questions about food safety this Thanksgiving, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 8am – 2pm EST. You can call them with any questions at (888) 674-6854, email them at mphotline@usda.gov, or chat live with them online.