New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Celebrate the Upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday Safely

The Department Issues Food Safety Tips When Making Thanksgiving Meals

The Department Reminds New Yorkers of Safe Ways to Celebrate the Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ALBANY, NY. (November 23, 2021) - The New York State Department of Health is reminding all New Yorkers of the importance of safely celebrating the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The Department encourages people to take proper food safety precautions to prevent foodborne illnesses and not to let their guard down against COVID-19 this holiday season.

"As Thanksgiving is a time for New Yorkers to enjoy food, family and friends, proper food safety precautions should be taken to avoid foodborne illness and the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated and to follow proper precautions," Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Kristin Proud said. "Practicing simple safety tips while enjoying the holiday season is a small step that can make a big difference in preventing foodborne illnesses and help keep your friends and family healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic."

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 clean sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or
    • In the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer's instructions.
    • Plan for thawing time. Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator can take approximately six hours per pound. Thawing in water is quicker but still requires about 30 minutes per pound.
  • 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
    Ground Meat (other than poultry) 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 turkey just before cooking. With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing's center reaches 165°F.

For more Thanksgiving food safety tips and how to prevent foodborne illnesses click here.

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. Visit the USDA food safety website here.

How to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated or get the booster shot if you are already vaccinated.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
  • If you are sick or have symptoms, don't host or attend a gathering.

All New York State massvaccination sites are open to eligible New Yorkers aged 5 and older, with walk-in vaccination available at all sites on a first-come, first-serve basis for people aged 12 and older. Information on which sites require appointments for children in the 5-11 age group is available on our website. People who prefer to make an appointment at a state-run massvaccinationsite can do so on the Am I Eligible App or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their local health department, pharmacy, doctor or hospital to schedule appointments where vaccines are available, or visit to find information onvaccineappointments near them.

New Yorkers looking to schedule vaccine appointments for 5-11 year-old children are encouraged to contact their child's pediatrician, family physician, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies that may be administering the vaccine for this age group. Parents and guardians can visit, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. Make sure that the provider offers the Pfizer-BioNTechCOVID-19 vaccine, as the other COVID-19 vaccines are not yet authorized for this age group.

Visit our new website for parents and guardians for new information, frequently asked questions and answers, and resources specifically designed for parents and guardians of this age group.