Niagara County Health Department

Safe Holiday meals

It is very important to totally thaw a frozen turkey by one of 2 methods.

  • On a plate under refrigeration – which can take over 3 days.
  • Place the turkey in a large pot in the kitchen sink and continuously run water cooler than 70 F over the bird. The turkey needs to be totally submerged in the water and the sink drain cannot be plugged, so excess water, as it runs over the side of the pot, goes down the drain.

There are advisories recommending the public not stuff turkeys due to concern over salmonella. Realizing some people will not follow this advisory, the following information is given in an attempt to protect the public’s health.

  1. Prepare stuffing
  2. Pull thawed turkey from refrigerator, clean and stuff bird.
  3. Place turkey in preheated oven.
  4. Cook until temperature in deepest part of internal cavity is 165F minimum. Do not touch bone with thermometer as the temperature reading may become inaccurate.
  5. Turkeys that are not stuffed need to be cooked to a minimum of 165F. Put the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Do not touch the bone.

The recommended type of thermometer to use is a dial faced, probe type thermometer that has delineation for every 2F. The temperature range should go from 0 F to 220F on the face. In this way, both cold and hot food temperatures can be monitored. These types of thermometers can be found at a relatively low cost usually at your local grocery or discount store.

All surfaces that the turkey might have come in contact with during any of the preparation (including the preparer’s hands) should be cleaned with sanitizing solution. Putting ½ teaspoon bleach in one-gallon water will create a sanitizing solution

Once you determine you have finished cooking and the turkey is over the minimum temperature requirement, all of the stuffing needs to be removed immediately when removed from the oven. Any stuffing that will not be served must be put into the refrigerator. After the turkey is carved any meat not being served should also be put into the refrigerator. The food should not be deeper than 4" in their containers. Leave container uncovered until the food is cold. Do not leave foods sitting on counters.

Foods being held for service should be maintained at or above 140F.

Reheat leftovers to a minimum of 165F

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