State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers of Food Preparation Safety When Making Thanksgiving Meals

ALBANY, NY (November 27, 2019) - The State Department of Health is reminding all New Yorkers of the importance of safe food preparation ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

"As Thanksgiving is a time for New Yorkers to enjoy food, family and friends, we want to make sure everyone remains healthy this holiday season," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker."Following basic food preparation safety tips throughout the holidays is a small step that can make a big difference in preventing foodborne illnesses."

Here are some food preparation safety tips:

  • Wrap fresh meats, including turkey, in plastic bags at the market to prevent blood and juices from dripping on other foods. Refrigerate foods promptly, and do not keep food at room temperature.
  • Never thaw frozen meat, including turkey, by leaving it out on the counter. A thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature.When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the "danger zone" between 40°F and 140°F.
  • Properly thaw a frozen turkey in one of these three ways:
    • In the refrigerator in a container,
    • In a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or
    • In the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer's instructions.
  • Don't spread germs from raw poultry (including turkey) and other raw meats around food preparation areas.
  • Cutting boards and counters used for poultry, beef, pork and seafood preparation should be washed immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
  • Never place cooked food, including meat, on an unwashed surface that previously held raw poultry, beef, pork or seafood.
  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat.
  • Washing raw meat before cooking is not recommended because it is unnecessary, and splatter may contaminate other surfaces.
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator. Don't taste the marinade or re-use it after raw meat has been added.
  • Use utensils to handle cooked foods.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats. Always check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Foods cooked to the temperatures listed below are fully cooked.
    Food Temperature
    Poultry, including turkey 165° F
    Hamburger 160° F
    Pork 150° F
    Leftovers 165° F
    Eggs 145° F
    Other foods 140° F
  • To check the temperature of meat, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, which is the least cooked part. Be careful not to pass through the meat and touch the cooking surface or you will get a false high temperature reading.
  • Cooking stuffing inside a turkey can make it hard for the stuffing to reach safe temperatures. Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked.If you cook stuffing in a turkey, put the stuffing in the turkeyjust beforecooking.With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing's center reaches 165°F.

For more information on food preparation safety and preventing foodborne illnesses, visit:

Have questions about Thanksgiving food safety? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).The Hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. Check out the FSIS Web site Send email questions to: Visit: Ask USDA | USDA's automated responsesystem can provide food safety information 24/7 and a live chat during Hotline hours.