Let’s Talk Turkey: Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety Tips
Thanksgiving is often the kickoff to the year-end holiday celebration season. If it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner, you may feel a little bit of pressure to deliver a meal where everybody is well fed. A little planning and preparation can help make sure that nothing potentially ruins your festive meal.
Reconsider Using a Turkey Fryer
Some people love the tasty goodness that can come from deep-frying a turkey in oil. But the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advises against gas-fueled turkey fryers since they may pose a danger for burns from hot oil and may also be a fire hazard.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also warns of the potential dangers and does not certify any turkey fryers. UL does offer the following safety tips, however, for those who may still prefer to cook their birds this way:
- Always use turkey fryers outdoors, away from buildings, decks and anything else that may catch fire. Never use the turkey fryer in the garage or indoors.
- Stand the fryer on a level surface to avoid accidental tipping.
- Keep kids and pets away from the fryer.
- Never leave the fryer unattended.
- Make sure to fully defrost the turkey. Never put a partially frozen turkey into hot oil, as ice and water may cause the oil to spill over and catch fire.
- Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water on a grease fire.
Prep Food Safely for Happy Stomachs
Nobody wants to be the cook who sends the family and friends home with a case of food poisoning. And for some of us, Thanksgiving may be the only day we cook a whole turkey. Here are some cooking tips to remember, thanks to FoodSafety.gov:
- Defrosting a turkey in the refrigerator is best. But it also takes longer than you may think: 24 hours for every four to five pounds. That means a 20-pound bird may take roughly four to five days to thaw.
- Cooking times may vary. A turkey is generally done when the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer and check the innermost part of the thigh and wing and also the thickest part of the breast.
- It’s usually safer to cook your stuffing separate from the turkey. But if you insist on cooking your stuffing inside the bird, be sure the temperature of it is also 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remember to thoroughly disinfect any surfaces that may have touched raw poultry to help prevent possible salmonella contamination. Also, wash your hands often while cooking.
Prevent Kitchen Mishaps
Some Thanksgiving hosts don’t want anybody else in the kitchen, while others may enjoy prepping the feast with family and friends around. Either way, help keep your cooking space safe with these tips from the NFPA:
- Unplug small appliances, such as food processors and blenders, when they’re not in use.
- Don’t leave cords hanging from counters where children can pull them or people may trip over them.
- Never leave the kitchen unattended if you have something cooking on the stove.
- Never leave the house unattended if the turkey, or any other side dishes, are cooking in the oven.
- If somebody does get burned, but their skin is not broken, soak in cool (not cold) water and then cover the burn with a dry, sterile bandage.
Following these suggestions may help keep the Thanksgiving meal more festive and safe for you and your loved ones.
Originally published November 22, 2013.