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Talking Turkey About Thermometers

Poultry is a frequent source of salmonella infections, and reported outbreaks from improperly cooked turkeys increase markedly during the holiday seasons, according to the national Centers for Disease Control.

By Christina Elston

The smell of a turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving Day can be intoxicating; just make sure that your bird is thoroughly cooked before you dig in. Poultry is a frequent source of salmonella infections, and reported outbreaks from improperly cooked turkeys increase markedly during the holiday seasons, according to the national Centers for Disease Control.

If you want to ensure a safe Thanksgiving Day feast, be sure to use a food thermometer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends additional safety measures, including storing your turkey properly, thawing it correctly if frozen, and keeping utensils and surfaces that come in contact with raw meat away from foods that won't be cooked. But when the bird hits the oven, only a thermometer can tell you whether it has cooked long enough to kill bacteria that could make your family sick.

Several types of food thermometers are available, so read manufacturers' instructions to make sure you're using yours correctly. Turkey, with the thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, must reach 180 Fahrenheit to be safe. Stuffing, whether in the bird or in a casserole, must reach 165 Fahrenheit, with the thermometer inserted into the center of the stuffing.

For more information on food thermometers, visit www.fsis.usda.gov/thermy. For help with the turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (yes, they're open on Thanksgiving) at 800-535-4555.

Read More: Health Notes

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