(NBC News) – Thanksgiving is a day to show gratitude and break bread with friends and family, not a time to give them food poisoning.
A few weeks ago on the “Today Show” Matt Lauer showed America what not to do, handling raw turkey then eating without washing his hands.
His mistake fortunately hurt no one, but the potential for harm from eating raw or undercooked meat and other contaminated food is serious.
“Nearly 48 million people get a foodborne illness annually, and that results in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths,” notes the USDA’s Chris Bernstein.
The USDA says turkey is safe to eat when it reaches 165 degrees. The pop-up timer is not as good an indicator of temperature as a meat thermometer, because you can use that device to gauge the temperature in several parts of the bird.
“The temperature should be checked in the thickest part of the breast, the inner-most part of the thigh, and inner-most part of the wing,” Berstein advises.
After it gets hot enough, you have to make sure to cool down leftovers within two hours after the feast is over so bacteria don’t have time to grow.