Skip to main content

Thanksgiving Q and A: Chef Ingrid Hoffmann, USDA, and FDA Talk Turduckens and Pumpkin Pie on Twitter

Posted by Catherine Cochran, Public Affairs Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service in Health and Safety
Nov 23, 2011

Yesterday, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline joined celebrity chef Ingrid Hoffmann and FDA’s Howard Seltzer to answer Thanksgiving food safety questions via Twitter. With @FoodSafetygov selecting questions from the audience, the panel of experts was able to answer 22 questions in an hour using the handle @USDAFoodSafety. Now that the chat is over, people are still sharing the tips with their friends and followers, helping get these important messages into as many kitchens as possible before Thursday.

The Thanksgiving questions and answers covered in the chat are listed below. Take a look—you might have been wondering some of these yourself. If you need to know something that is not listed here, call the Meat and Poultry Hotline weekdays at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Q 1 My turkey recipe says to rinse & pat the turkey dry before seasoning. Is this really necessary?
A1 Washing turkey will splash bac on your sink & counters! Don't do it! Cooking to 165F will kill bacteria.

Q2 from @LauraDrahan, What are some safety tips for brining a turkey properly?
A2 Brine in the fridge or anywhere below 40F. Also, see this video! glad you asked:

Q3 from @nmshaw, I bought a fresh turkey yesterday, will my fresh turkey really last until Nov 30th?
A3 We recommend keeping fresh turkey 1-2 days in the refrigerator. Freeze it if you need 2 use later. Cook to 165F!

Q4 from @AdCouncil, Jess wants to know: Is it OK to eat the stuffing that you've cooked inside the bird?
A4 As long as the stuffing reaches 165 as measured w/ a food therm inside the bird, it's ok 2 eat. We rec. cooking in a dish.

Q5 from @bzalpha, Got a Q--been wanting to try a turducken, is it better to buy than cook @ home; any tips or suggestions?
A5 Making/buying a turducken is personal preference. Either way, this factsheet will help u cook safely

Q6 What is the strangest turkey question the M&P Hotline has ever received?
A6 One caller wanted to brine a #turkey in a washing machine. Don't do that! We've really heard them all over 25 yrs. 

Q7 from @TexanCiCi, How many hours and at what temperature do you cook a 12-pound spatchcocked turkey?
A7 Ingrid says a good rule of thumb for butterflied/spatchcocked birds is to subtract 2hrs from cooking time. ALWAYS cook to 165F 

Q8 from @bzalpha, Got anothr Q; does frying a gobbler remove alot of the food safety concerns vs. roasting?
A8 These videos cover all foodsafety concerns w/ different turkey cooking methods. Each one is unique

Q9 from @LauraDrahan, Here is another Q: How do I cook a turkey to be moist besides basting?
A9 @SimplyIngrid says put yogurt/butter/both btwn meat&skin w/o tearing for moisture. Rest for 20min or more before carving 

Q10 I’ve had the same dial thermometer since I got married in 1985. How do I know if it is still accurate?
A10 You can calibrate a thermometer two ways to make sure it's accurate. Both are pretty easy. Steps here:

Q11 from @ChineseSoupPot, @USDAFoodSafety how long should a 20lb turkey be brinned for?
A11 A fresh turkey shouldn't be kept in fridge for more than 2 days, therefore brine for no more than 2 days 

Q12 from @ChineseSoupPot, what are yummy and healthy ways of reusing any remaining roasting juice after thxgiving dinner?
A12 @SimplyIngrid says reduce roasting juices to make gravies/sauce. Refrigerate gravies/sauce for 3-4 days, or freeze 2 use l8r 

Q13 from @LauraDrahan, What kind of container do I cook a turkey in? @USDAFoodSafety
A13 What container 2 use depends on cooking method. 2 roast, use a shallow roasting pan. Other methods here:

Q14 from @efisher325,  How long can you eat your turkey leftovers before they go bad?
A14 @SimplyIngrid says refrigerate w/in 2 hrs, & keep in fridge for 3-4 days. Storage chart 4 all leftovers:

Q15 Thawed turkey can be messy in the kitchen. How do you recommend keeping juices and bacteria at bay?
A15 Clean utensils btwn uses; separate cutting boards 4 raw meats/veg r helpful; cook 2 right temps. More:

Q16 My mother never wants to refrigerate the turkey until late in the afternoon. Is this ok?
A16 Put leftovers in fridge w/in 2 hrs after cooking! People should make their leftover sandwiches from the fridge, not counter.

Q17 I’m buying a 15-lb turkey after work today. How can I get it to thaw by Thursday?
A17 @SimplyIngrid says it should thaw in fridge if u start it right away. 24hrs/5lbs to thaw. Finish thawing in cold H2O if needed.

Q18 What tips are there for reheating leftovers?
A18 Reheat lftvr casserole 2 165F; gravies/soups 2 a boil. Microwaves may cook unevenly, stir/cover/use a therm 2 avoid cold spots.

Q19 Do I need to refrigerate my pumpkin pie? If so, how long will it be good for?
A19 Pumpkin pie needs to be refrigerated w/in 2hrs after cooking. Keep 2-3 days, if you can keep from eating it for that long!

Q20 If I thawed my turkey too early, will it still be safe on Thursday?
A20 If your turkey is already completely thawed today, it is safe to cook on Thanksgiving Day. 

Q21 from @jamespatterson3, Where is the correct place to check temp on a turkey? Leg? Breast?
A21 Chck turkey temp in 3 spots: innermost prt of thigh & wing, & thickest prt of breast. Should =165F. Check cntr of stuffing too.

Q22 from @LauraDrahan Do you have any tips or a chart on when to cook foods so that everything comes out at around the same time?
A22 No chart, but @SimplyIngrid says cook longest cooking dish 1st, & make room in oven 2 finish cooking dishes w/ turkey.

To share these tips with your followers, search for #trkytips or follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter. (@FoodSafetygov), @USDAFoodSafety, and Ingrid Hoffmann (@SimplyIngrid) will be tweeting tips throughout the holiday and afterwards.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety