The holidays are here – a time when families and friends gather together to give thanks, celebrate, decorate and share a meal. The Delaware Department of Agriculture urges people to do their part in keeping holiday food safe.


The holidays are here – a time when families and friends gather together to give thanks, celebrate, decorate and share a meal. The Delaware Department of Agriculture urges people to do their part in keeping holiday food safe:

At the farm or the market:

Be sure raw and/or cooked food is displayed at the proper temperature.
  Never choose packages that are torn or leaking.
  Be sure cashiers and clerks put raw meat and poultry into a plastic bag so meat juices will not cross-contaminate other foods.
  When ordering food from the deli department, be sure the clerk observes good sanitary practices.
  Don’t buy cooked items which are touching raw items in a display case.
 

On the way home:

Drive immediately home from the market.
  If you live farther away than 30 minutes, bring a cooler with ice.
 

At home:

Cook a fresh turkey within one to two days. Don’t buy turkey with stuffing already in it; the food safety risk is too great.
  For a frozen turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or the microwave. Don’t let it thaw at room temperature. It takes 24 hours to thaw every five pounds of turkey in the refrigerator. If using cold water, change the water every half-hour and allow 30 minutes of thaw time for every pound. Follow manufacturer’s directions for microwave defrosting.
  Don’t let raw juices from the turkey leak onto other foods. Place the turkey in a leak-proof pan when defrosting.
  Wash hands before handling the raw turkey and often throughout the process.
  To prepare the turkey for roasting, remove the giblets and neck from the cavity and rinse the cavity in cold, running water.
  Keep work area clean. Use paper towels to wipe up raw juices and discard them immediately. Then wipe the work area with a very mild bleach and water solution.
  Never chop raw vegetables on the same cutting board that just held raw meat without first cleaning the surface with a water/bleach solution.
  Food safety experts recommend cooking the stuffing in a separate pan. To stuff the bird, do so loosely just before roasting. When preparing the stuffing, mix the dry and wet ingredients just before cooking.
  Use a thermometer to make sure the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 180 or 170 degrees Fahrenheit for turkey breast only. Stuffing must also reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t rely on the “pop-up” thermometers inserted in some brands of turkey.
  Insert thermometer in the fleshy part of the thigh or breast. If the thermometer touches bone, the reading will not be a true reading.
  The safest and most delicious way to cook a turkey is to roast it in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven, allowing approximately 20 minutes for every pound. Don’t cover with aluminum foil, except at the end of the roasting period.