Turkey Talk: 8 cooking tips for a safe meal

Turkey Talk: 8 cooking tips for a safe meal

It’s that time of the year again.

Whether you’re hosting a holiday party or not, you’re bound to end up having to cook something.

Did you know, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, that kitchen fires triple on Thanksgiving day? How about that there have been more than 672 turkey-fryer related injuries since 2002?

“Nobody wants to be the person who caused the family to get sick or hurt,” says Dr. Jacqueline Ivey-Brown, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.

Follow these tips from Dr. Ivey-Brown for a safe, happy and delicious holiday:

  1. Wash your hands! It can’t be said enough that this is the best way to avoid contamination of food. Also, wash both meat and vegetables before cooking to try and remove as much soil and bacteria from the products as possible.
  2. Keep meat prep surfaces either separate from vegetables, or clean the surface thoroughly before switching to prepare a different food – this prevents the spread of bacteria.
  3. If frying a turkey, make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry. Any water on the poultry can cause the oil to bubble and splatter on the skin, resulting in minor to severe burns. If a minor burn occurs, make sure to rinse the affected area in cool water and apply a cool compress to the area for about ten minutes. Apply a loose-fitting bandage over the injury and avoid breaking any blisters that may form. When in doubt about how serious a burn is, see your primary care doctor to make sure there are no signs of a skin infection.
  4. It’s common to walk away after everyone has eaten at the table to enjoy family games, football and graze on leftovers over the course of the evening. However, remember that most cooked food should be refrigerated after two hours to prevent infection from foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella.

Dr. Emelie Ilarde, a family medicine physician with Christ Medical Center, has hosted over a dozen Thanksgiving dinners in her lifetime – and that’s just one holiday!

She recommends the following holiday cooking tips:

  1. For starters, don’t forget to tie your hair back and roll up your sleeves. The last way you want to kick off the holiday season is by catching on fire!
  2. If you’re going to be defrosting foods, do so in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. Do not defrost on the countertop at room temperature.
  3. Stuffing is a popular holiday food item, but make sure it is cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees. Otherwise, bacteria can and most likely will survive in the stuffing and potentially cause food poisoning.
  4. Burns are one of the most common cooking injuries we see. Always use oven mitts, keep an eye on oil and heat it slowly. Never add water to hot oil, and hold the pot handle when stirring items so that they don’t slip off the burner.

Now that you know how to stay safe while cooking this holiday season, why not check out a new recipe? How about this corn casserole?

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  1. I’m confused Dr. Ivey-Brown is indicating to wash the meat. The FDA says not to wash the turkey because it spreads the bacteria throughout the kitchen.

  2. All good advice, except for the recommendation to wash meat. Research has shown that washing meat or poultry in water, spreads bacteria throughout the kitchen—onto counter tops, other food, towels and you. Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink.

    This advice is based on research done by Drexel University in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative (NIFSI).

About the Author

Jamie Bonnema
Jamie Bonnema

Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.