The festive season is upon us, and while every family’s wish is to enjoy the celebrations to the fullest, some families will have less to be thankful for based on statistics. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, home cooking fires more than double the daily average on Thanksgiving Day. Candles are more a plenty during this time of year, also adding to the probability. Food borne issues can lead to illness based on handling, and even just the general hustle and bustle that come with excited children, or overcrowded roads can add to the difficulties.
But there is good news in all of this! These issues are 100% within our control to guard against, minimize, and even eliminate with some careful planning, and even more careful execution. All it takes is a little “food for thought”, “not adding fuel to the fire”, and occasionally having to play “traffic cop” to keep those you love safe. After all, when you ask yourself what you’re most thankful for, chances are #1 on you list is ‘family’. So let’s keep them safe with some tips and tidbits!
Note: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling turkey or any other food.
There are 3 ways to safely Thaw a Turkey, and timing is very important based on the method you choose. Don’t leave it too late!
• In the Refrigerator (40°F) - approximately 24 hours per 4-5 pounds of turkey. The turkey can be refrozen if required.
• In Cold Water – ensure the turkey is wrapped so as not to allow water to permeate the wrap. Completely submerge the turkey in cold water, and make sure to change the water every 30 minutes. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound to thaw completely. The turkey cannot be refrozen if thawed in this manner. Cook immediately.
• In Microwave Oven – remove all packaging and place turkey in a microwave-safe pan to catch liquid. Per the oven’s manual, defrost based on the minutes per pound and required power level. Do not refreeze or refrigerate. Cook immediately.
• Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! (with soap and water).
• Ensure your work area is clean and uncluttered.
• Ensure utensils and cutting boards are clean and designated for a specific task such as fruits and vegetables that will remain uncooked versus raw meat or other cooked foods.
• Avoid wiping your hands on dish towels as they may have come in contact with raw foods such as the turkey. In this case, paper towels are your best bet.
Safe Food Cooking and Serving
• Always use a food thermometer to ensure the turkey (all parts) is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Stuffing should also be cooked to 165°F and should be cooked separately from the turkey.
• Do not reuse utensils from the food preparation stage unless they have been thoroughly cleaned. Use clean serving utensils for each dish, and a clean carving knife for the bird…let’s eat!
• Keep cold desserts including pumpkin pie refrigerated until ready to serve.
• Put any left-over food away in smaller containers to avoid excess air capture within two hours of serving.
• Keep left-overs refrigerated if they are to be consumed within 3 days, or freeze for longer term storage.
Fire Safety (cooking/candles) & Burns
To help prevent home fires, burns and scalds, please remember the following. Recognition of the potential hazards and a little prevention can go a long way.
• Keep the cooking surface area free of clutter and keep combustibles at a safe distance.
• Turn the handles of pots and pans inwards, and use the back burners of the stove whenever possible.
• Do not wear loose-fitting clothing or have long, loose sleeves around the stove area.
• Do not leave the stove unattended while cooking, particularly while using the stove top, and ensure all burners and the stove is turned off when not in use.
• Do not leave candles unattended, and never leave them burning while no one is home, or if everyone has gone to bed for the night. Keep them out of reach of children, out of the line of fire from being bumped or contacted by a person’s clothing, and resist the temptation to add decorations around the candle as they themselves may be combustible.
• Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher within easy access just in case.
Stay Safe & Have Fun!