Food Safety Essentials

Our commitment to food safety doesn’t end when our products leave the store. We want you to have the information you need to store, prepare, and enjoy your meal safely. So, the next time you prepare one of our turkey products, make sure to follow the steps below.

Turkey with thermometer

Clean Consistently

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If it touches raw meat, you'll need to clean it—before and after you prep. Wash all of the following with hot water and soap:

  • Counters
  • Cutting boards
  • Platters and plates
  • Utensils (including the meat thermometer)

Don’t forget to frequently wash your hands with soap or sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.

Separate from the Start

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To prevent cross-contamination, keep your raw turkey products separated from other foods at all times. This includes:

  • Your shopping cart and grocery bags
  • Your refrigerator
  • Anything you use to prepare (counters, cutting boards, utensils, etc.)

If you’re preparing turkey stuffing, keep it separated from the turkey until right before you cook. Never stuff a turkey the night before.

Think Ahead About Thawing

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There is more than one safe way to thaw a turkey, but thawing at room temperature is not one of them. Here’s what we recommend:

  • You can thaw some turkey products in the microwave, but plan to cook immediately after you finish thawing.
  • Whole turkeys should only be thawed in the refrigerator or using cold water. Watch demonstrations of both on our how-to page

Cook Completely

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Cook all turkey products to 165°F, and if you’re preparing a whole turkey, the temperature should reach:

  • 180° F in the thigh
  • 170° F in the breast
  • 165° F in the center of the stuffing

Store Safely

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Store your leftovers in separate, airtight containers within two hours of cooking, and eat or freeze all leftovers within three days. If you’re storing leftovers from a whole turkey, carve it before you store it.

Still Have Questions?

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline can answer your food safety and handling questions year-round.

Call their Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), or use their Ask Karen feature to submit a question or chat with an expert online.