Tips for safely preparing Thanksgiving day meals
Col. John Price, 375th Air Mobility Wing vice commander, serves Airmen and their families a Thanksgiving Day meal at the Scott Air Force Base dining facility Nov. 22, 2012. Since many airmen and other members of Scott are not able to travel home for the holiday, the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving meal to make the time away from loved ones less difficult. The meal consisted of turkey, pot roast, mashed potatoes, vegetables and an assortment of cakes and pies.

When asking most people about Thanksgiving memories, the majority reflect on the holiday meal. It's a special time when families and friends gather and enjoy a big meal -- and the focus is on the turkey.

Exercising safety measures in the kitchen will ensure a safe turkey dinner and prevent disasters -- from poor preparation to cooking properly so no one gets food poisoning.

The Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) is a partner with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is responsible for the safety of meat and poultry.

According to the CDC and USDA FSIS, there are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven.

Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The "danger zone" is between 40 and 140°F -- the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly.

Cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish for optimal safety and uniform doneness. However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

Turkeys should be cooked at an oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees. Ensure the turkey is completely thawed before cooking. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

Additional information is available on the website at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home and related injuries. The NFPA lists the following safety tips to ensure a safe holiday season on their website at http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for consumers/holidays/thanksgiving-safety:

Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.

Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.

Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

Keep the floor clear so you don't trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

Keep knives out of the reach of children.

Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children --high in a locked cabinet.
Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.

Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Page last updated Mon November 25th, 2013 at 00:00