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Let’s Talk Turkey: Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving

Posted by Jesus Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA-FSIS in Health and Safety
Nov 17, 2021
People having a Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving is just days away and for those concerned about preparing this special meal, don’t worry, USDA is here to help. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is available all week and even on Thanksgiving Day to answer your questions. Here are some quick tips:

Clean: Keep bacteria out of your kitchen by washing your hands before, during and after you handle raw food. Make sure food preparation surfaces and utensils are clean.

Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry separate from produce and cooked foods by using different cutting boards.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey is safe to eat. The recommended internal temperature must reach 165 F in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.

Chill: Your meal on the dinner table has only two hours before it becomes unsafe, and bacteria start to multiply. Make sure you put out just enough food for your guests and place the rest in your fridge in shallow containers.

USDA offers more advice on how to safely thaw your turkey and also offers a chart listing how much time you will need to roast a stuffed or unstuffed turkey.

For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email to reach a food safety expert or chat live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, visit or follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at

Category/Topic: Health and Safety