Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
The USDA recommends thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.
Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:
Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
1. CLEAN: Wash your hands and surfaces often
2. SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate
3. COOK: Always cook food to the correct temperature, check them with a food thermometer
4. CHILL: Refrigerate promptly if not eating right away
Centers for Disease Control
National Fire Prevention Association
United States Department of Agriculture
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
National Safety Council