Ah yes, turkey day is upon us. Each year you hear what you should or shouldn’t do with your Thanksgiving dinner (either from the news or your nosey family members):
Don’t stuff the turkey! It breeds bacteria!
Let your leftovers cool before you refrigerate them!
Those pies are just fine on the counter overnight!
So, what’s the real truth? Do you know what is fact and what is fallacy when dealing with your turkey dinner?
I love stuffing in the turkey. It really is the best, isn’t it? However (because of all the scary media about it), each year that I do this I think in the back of my mind, “Gee, I hope no one gets sick from this.” So, is stuffing your turkey really dangerous? According the CDC, stuffing your turkey is fine as long as you do it right before you cook the turkey and make sure that the stuffing inside the turkey is cooked to a minimum temperature of 165°F to prevent bacteria.
Contrary to popular belief, you should not let leftovers cool before you refrigerate then. The FDA says, “If left unrefrigerated, some organisms can create toxins that will survive the cooking process even if the food is cooked to temperatures that kill the bacteria themselves.” So refrigerate immediately after finished–preferably within the hour after cooking.
Sadly, those Thanksgiving leftovers shouldn’t make it into your lunch the following week. WebMd tells us to eat turkey and stuffing within three days and gravy within two–including if you make soups, casseroles, etc. with them. Sorry. (Bummer, I know.)
Many of us probably grew up eating the pies that our grandmothers or mothers left sitting out all day (or for days) and we’re fine, right? Well, the USDA says that any foods made with milk or eggs should be baked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 °F and refrigerated after baking.
“Eggs and milk have high protein and moisture content and when these baked products are left at room temperature, conditions are ripe for bacteria to multiply. It’s not necessary to refrigerate most other cakes, cookies or breads unless they have a perishable filling or frosting.”
Roasting a turkey below 325 °F for a long period of time is not a good idea because it doesn’t kill the bacteria that may be normally present on raw turkey. In fact, it may cause them to multiply. So, low and slow is not the way to go for this meal. Anything above 325 °F will kill the bacteria and avoid sending your guests to the emergency room with food poisoning.
Do any of these Thanksgiving myths surprise you?
[Image: Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]