Safety tips on preparing your Thanksgiving turkey

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(CNN) – Thanksgiving dinner is time for family, friends and, of course, turkey.

Whether you’re a gourmet chef or a turkey novice, cooking the bird properly is key to a healthy holiday.

When cooking your turkey, you need to be aware of four safety issues:

Thawing, preparing, stuffing and cooking to adequate temperature.

Never leave a turkey out on the counter to thaw overnight.

Bacteria can grow rapidly in raw turkey when its temperature is between 40-to-140 degrees.

The CDC recommends it be thawed in the microwave, the refrigerator, or in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes.

While preparing the turkey, make sure to wash hands and surfaces often and keep raw turkey separate from other items so illness-causing bacteria doesn’t spread.

If you’re stuffing your bird, do so just before cooking, and make sure you cook a stuffed turkey at a temperature higher than 325 degrees.

While it’s cooking, it’s critical that you use a food thermometer.

This will help you ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, high enough to kill any bacteria.

When you’re checking the temperature, make sure you’re checking in the correct spot

“You’re probably going to check right in between the leg and the cavity of the body and then also in the thickest part of the breast,” explained registered dietitian Mike Folino.

Follow these tips for a happy and healthy turkey day!

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