Thanksgiving cooking is synonymous with home holiday celebrations. It is no coincidence therefore, that Thanksgiving is also the number one day of the year for home cooking fires. The most common reason for indoor and outdoor cooking fires is unattended food on the stovetop, BBQ grill, or the deep fryer.
The Turkey Fryer…
Turkey fryers should be placed at least 10 ft. from the house. The fryer should be placed on flat ground. Oil in the fryer should be maintained at a constant temperature. Remember to leave enough room in the fryer for the whole turkey. Many fires start when the turkey is submerged into the oil and it overflows onto the burners. Water, when it encounters hot oil, will bubble, and cause oil to spill out of the fryer. So be sure to completely dry off the bird before you put it in the fryer. Never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire as this promotes the spread of fire. Try to smother the fire with a lid, or with baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
Some other safety tips:
Kitchen safety for children deserves special attention. Attached is a chart for review from the National Fire Prevention Association that reviews safety tips for children in the kitchen during cooking.
Pet safety is also a consideration. Turkey bones are hollow and can splinter if a pet chews on them. These bone splinters can cause tears that may bleed in the esophagus and the intestines. Do not offer pets turkey bones (or any poultry bones).
Thanksgiving food generally has a high fat content. Fat digestion can tax a pet’s digestive system and can cause gastro-intestinal distress. Feeding your pet prior to guests arriving can be helpful f or avoiding pet hunger.
Food safety for Thanksgiving:
- Turkey preparation begins with cleaning: Hand washing is the first step prior to the start of cooking. Cooking surfaces should be clean. All utensils should be clean.
- Turkey is generally thawed in the refrigerator. Roughly every 1 lb. of turkey requires 30 minutes to thaw in the refrigerator. If turkey is thawed in the microwave, follow instructions on package, or guidelines recommendations specific to your microwave. Once thawed, turkey should be immediately cooked.
- Plan to cook the turkey completely to a temperature of 165 degrees. Partially cooked turkey is unsafe to eat.
- It is recommended that raw meat, poultry, and eggs remain separate from other cooked foods. Vegetables. Fruits to be prepared and eaten raw, should not be prepared around raw meat, poultry, or eggs. It is a good idea to prepare all vegetable and fruit dishes before preparing raw foods.
- Turkey should not be rinsed in a sink under a faucet. The water from the faucet hitting the turkey can spray bacteria from the turkey for up to 3 ft away. If this bacteria lands on food that is not going to be cooked, it can contaminate the food and potentially cause sickness.
- To make turkey safe for eating by destroying harmful bacteria, it must be cooked to 165 degrees. A cooking thermometer is crucial to ensure this temperature is reached. Correct placement of the thermometer is in the thickest part of the breast, or the innermost part of thigh or innermost part of the wing. Once 165 degrees is achieved the turkey is safe to eat. It is no longer advised to cook stuffing inside the turkey, thus cook stuffing separately. “Resting” the turkey prior to carving should be for a period of about 20 minutes.
Leftovers are a particularly fun next day meal. To maintain food safety for leftovers, do not leave the Thanksgiving meal leftovers unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Warm food is a breeding ground for bacteria. For this reason, storing food in small shallow containers that allow more rapid cooling is recommended.
Reheating turkey the next day is once again heating the turkey to 165 degrees. Boiling is the recommendation for reheating sauces and gravy.
Finally, leftovers can be refrigerated for a total of three days.
As with any holiday, follow the usual safety recommendations: Check to be sure smoke alarms are functional. Have a fire extinguisher ready and know how to use it. Keep floors free of tripping hazards. Keep an eye on children and pets.
We wish our communities a happy and safe Holiday Season.