Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together, celebrate and catch up with one another. But like most things in 2021, Thanksgiving might be a little different then we have come to expect over the years. However, one thing that does remain a constant is the possible dangers and threats posed by both eating and cooking the turkey. In this piece, we discuss how to stay safe this Thanksgiving from all the usual suspects and how to take extra precautions with COVID-19.
- Buy carefully: It is best to avoid fresh or stuffed turkeys and to buy it 1-2 days before you are ready to cook it. It is also recommended that you keep it in the fridge if the turkey was bought within 1-2 days or in the freezer if bought further in advance.
- Defrost properly: When it comes to thawing our turkey, if it is thawed in the refrigerator it takes one day to thaw about 4-5lbs. Another alternative would be to thaw the turkey in cold water by submerging it which allows it to thaw 1lb every 30 minutes. Do not thaw in hot water as this can create harmful bacteria.
- Cook immediately after thawing: It is recommended as well, that you avoid slow cooking or partially cooking the turkey and ensure it has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. When checking the temperature it is best to check the innermost part of the thigh or wing and the thickest part of the breast, to ensure it is fully cooked.
- Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
- It is key to keep the turkey thawed and dry before placing it in the oil since if the ice or water mixes with the oil, it can cause flare ups.
- Place the fryer on a level surface and avoid moving it after the cooking process has begun.
- When choosing your turkey for deep frying, it’s recommended that you choose a smaller bird that is around 8-10 pounds and pass on a turkey that is over 12 pounds.
- Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil and once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
- Skip the stuffing when choosing to fry your turkey and avoid water based marinades.
- When finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner and place it on a level surface and allow the oil to cool overnight before disposing.
- If you’re looking to avoid the dangers of using oil, try using an oil-less fryer that uses infrared heat instead of oil to cook the turkey.
- When serving, ensure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Store leftovers properly to eliminate food poisoning. Ensure the food does not sit out for too long after eating and store food in shallow containers.
- Leftovers are most safely eaten within 3 days and reheated leftovers should be cooked to 165 degrees F. If leftovers are not eaten within 3 days, they should be moved to the freezer.
Child and Pet Safety:
- Keep knives, sharp and flammable objects out of the reach of both children and pets.
- Beware of the kitchen. Baking with your children can be a fun activity, but ensure to keep your children at a safe distance when cooking and be careful when holding them by one hand so they don’t get burned.
- Don’t offer your turkey bones to your pet, since like other birds the bones are hollow, meaning they can splinter and tear an animal’s internal organs or esophagus.
- Be careful not to give your pet fatty holiday foods like turkey skin and mashed potatoes since they can lead to pancreatitis.
- In addition to turkey skin and mashed potatoes, ensure pets stay away from corn on the cob, chocolate, sugar, onions, raisins, grapes, and alcohol which are toxic.
- Check the infection rate in areas you live or where attendees will be visiting from. It is vital to use this information to ensure it is safe to hold or attend the gathering at the proposed date.
- Limit the number of attendees from different households as much as possible to allow for proper social distancing. Although it may be difficult, it is recommended that direct contact be avoided if possible, including handshakes and hugs.
- Consider hosting an outdoor gathering rather than an indoor gathering to allow for more ventilation in the outdoor space. Even when outdoors, it is recommended that guests wear a mask when not eating or drinking to allow for as much safety as possible.
- Encourage those attending to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. To make things easier, you may also stock up on hand sanitizer to have it readily available for guests, but it must contain at least 60% alcohol.
- Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items like serving utensils and clean and disinfect these items frequently as well.