Seven Thanksgiving Cooking Hazards . . . and How to Avoid Them

Thanksgiving is next week, so here are seven cooking hazards you should be aware of . . . and how to avoid them.

1.  Salmonella.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already announced a salmonella outbreak linked to undercooked turkey.  So it’s even more important that you wash your hands EVERY time you touch raw turkey.

Even rinsing the bird in the sink can be dangerous, because you can spray turkey juice around.  So disinfect anything that comes in contact with the turkey before it’s cooked.

2.  Defrosting the turkey.  The safest way to defrost the turkey is in the refrigerator, that way it’s always kept under 40 degrees.  And when it’s defrosting, make sure it’s in a container that won’t leak, and place it at the bottom of the fridge so no juice drips onto other food in the fridge.

3.  Stuffing.  If you like to cook stuffing IN the bird, put it in a pan after the turkey is done and place it back in the oven until it reaches 165 degrees.  That way there’s no undercooked turkey juices in it.  Of course, you can also cook it entirely separately too.

4.  Knife injuries.  Get your knives sharpened this weekend, before you need to use them.  You’d think a sharp edge makes it more likely to cut yourself, but it’s actually the opposite because knives slip more when they’re not sharp.

5.  Burns.  If you’re working over the stove, be careful with long sleeves, jewelry, or anything that could catch on the side of a pan and pull it off the stove.  Also, keep a fire extinguisher under your sink just in case.

6.  Leaving food out.  It’s something we don’t really think about on Thanksgiving, but leaving food out at room temperature for more than two hours can be dangerous.  Instead, you can put food out a little at a time or reheat it throughout the day.  Just set your oven to low and rotate in the cooked food to keep it hot.

7.  Reheating leftovers.  In general, make sure any leftovers are heated to 165 degrees to kill any bacteria.  If you don’t have a thermometer, just make sure your food is steaming hot before you eat it.