SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — You should wash your hands and dishes with soap, but please do not put it on your raw turkey.
It’s that time of year that amateur cooks pinned with hosting duties stress out over cooking a major traditional feast. It’s easy to make some food safety mistakes.
If you don’t want to give your guests (or yourself) food poisoning, you’ll want to hear these tips from an actual food safety expert:
“USDA recommends that you do not wash your turkey,” said Wendy Mihm, a director of food safety education at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It risks cross-contamination, you can get those turkey juices in and around your sink.”
Pathogens and viruses that may be in the raw turkey get eliminated once it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees, she added.
But before the bird gets in the oven, you may need to properly thaw it.
Mihm said you can keep the turkey in the original packaging while it’s thawing, but you may want to place it in a container like a glass baking dish to catch the moisture as it defrosts.
“For every four to five pounds of turkey weight, you want to give it a full 24 hours, or full day in the refrigerator,” she said. For example, a 15 pound frozen turkey will need three days of thawing time.
Once everyone has made their plates, or even their seconds, it’s time to start packing it up. The dishes shouldn’t be left sitting out for longer than two hours, Mihm said.
She recommends dividing the leftovers into shallow containers and shelve them in the fridge as soon as possible.
Those leftovers are then good for four days, Mihm added. That means you shouldn’t be gobbling any more turkey after Monday – that is, if your leftovers actually last that long!