Thanksgiving Safety: Keeping food and folks safe, while having fun

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Gary Lund
  • 960th Cyberspace Wing

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas -- Thanksgiving dinner is probably one of the largest meals we cook and consume every year. Most of the pressure is on the host to prepare the dinner just right and keep everything clean, as well. The following tips will help ensure you’re serving a delicious and safe meal.

The first tip is to read the label on the turkey carefully. The label shows whether the turkey is fresh or frozen. Purchase the turkey no more than two days before cooking it, to ensure that you’ll be serving a fresh turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Purchase a thermometer for both conditions of the turkey: One for the stored turkey and one for the cooked turkey. The stored turkey should be refrigerated at 40 degrees, and a cooked turkey at 165 degrees. A turkey can be thawed by microwave, cold water method or in the refrigerator. The recommended method is to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator.

The next tip is in regards to cooking the turkey so that it’s cooked cleanly, safely and at its best quality. Before you start, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Keep the uncooked turkey from all other foods. When cutting the turkey, use a separate cutting board from all other foods being served. Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 degrees. This will be measured by a food thermometer. The turkey’s temperature can be checked in three different places; the breast, the thigh and the wing.

The final tip is in regards to storing leftover Thanksgiving food so it can be consumed later. Leftovers should be stored within two hours of being served, to prevent bacteria from growing into the food. Store leftovers in containers so that cooling time is decreased. Stuffing and turkey should be refrigerated separately, not together.

Leftovers should not be in the refrigerator for longer than three to four days, and if you plan on keeping leftovers for longer than that, the best thing to do is put them in the freezer. If a guest is taking leftovers home and they live more than two hours away, put the food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs.  

Additionally, here are some tips to keep you safe for the Thanksgiving holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consider having dinner with only the people who live in your residence and invite friends and family virtually through Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Be sure to shop online for the holidays instead of in-person, and watch sports, movies and parades from home.

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, avoid any activity where there’ll be large gatherings of people. Be sure to always wear a protective face mask, practice social distancing, and thoroughly wash your hands at every opportunity when venturing outside your home.

No matter how you choose to enjoy your Thanksgiving, these tips are sure to keep you safe and prevent anyone from getting sick during the holiday.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!