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State Health Dept. reminds you to celebrate Thanksgiving safely


The New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Celebrate the Upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday Safely.

The New York State Department of Health is reminding all New Yorkers of the importance of safely celebrating the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The Department encourages people to take proper food safety precautions to prevent foodborne illnesses and not to let their guard down against COVID-19 this holiday season.

“As Thanksgiving is a time for New Yorkers to enjoy food, family and friends, proper food safety precautions should be taken to avoid foodborne illness and the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated and to follow proper precautions,” Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Kristin Proud said. “Practicing simple safety tips while enjoying the holiday season is a small step that can make a big difference in preventing foodborne illnesses and help keep your friends and family healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Here are some food preparation safety tips:

Wrap fresh meats, including turkey, in plastic bags at the market to prevent blood and juices from dripping on other foods. Refrigerate foods promptly, and do not keep food at room temperature.

Never thaw frozen meat, including turkey, by leaving it out on the counter. A thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F.

Properly thaw a frozen turkey in one of these three ways:

In the refrigerator in a container,

In a leak-proof plastic bag in a clean sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or

In the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions.

Plan for thawing time. Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator can take approximately six hours per pound. Thawing in water is quicker but still requires about 30 minutes per pound.

Don’t spread germs from raw poultry (including turkey) and other raw meats around food preparation areas.

Cutting boards and counters used for poultry, beef, pork and seafood preparation should be washed immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.

Never place cooked food, including meat, on an unwashed surface that previously held raw poultry, beef, pork or seafood.

Wash your hands after touching raw meat.

Washing raw meat before cooking is not recommended because it is unnecessary, and splatter may contaminate other surfaces.

Marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t taste the marinade or re-use it after raw meat has been added.

Use utensils to handle cooked foods.

Avoid eating raw or under cooked meats. Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Foods cooked to the temperatures listed below are fully cooked.

Food Temperature

Poultry, including turkey

165° F

Ground Meat (other than poultry)

160° F


150° F


165° F


145° F

Other foods

140° F

To check the temperature of meat, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, which is the least cooked part. Be careful not to pass through the meat and touch the cooking surface or you will get a false high temperature reading.

Cooking stuffing inside a turkey can make it hard for the stuffing to reach safe temperatures. Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in a turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking. With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center reaches 165°F.

Have questions about Thanksgiving food safety? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). The Hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. Visit the USDA food safety website here.

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