About that turkey you’re about to bake

Rappahannock News - - COURTHOUSE ROW • FROM PAGE ONE - Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

Savvy cooks al­ready know the ba­sics of food safety: clean sur­faces and uten­sils; sep­a­rate raw meat, poul­try, eggs and seafood from ready-to-eat foods and don’t con­tam­i­nate plates or uten­sils with raw juices; cook to proper in­ter­nal tem­per­a­tures; and chill, i.e. keep cold foods cold and re­frig­er­ate left­overs within two hours.

The Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Con­sumer Ser­vices (VDACS) ad­vises all cooks

han­dlers to go be­yond the ba­sics this hol­i­day sea­son, how­ever.

The only way to avoid food­borne ill­ness is to make sure the turkey is cooked to the cor­rect in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture of 165-de­grees fahren­heit as mea­sured by a food ther­mome­ter. If you cook stuff­ing in the turkey (not rec­om­mended), check its tem­per­a­ture, too.

For op­ti­mal safety, do not stuff the turkey. Even if the turkey is cooked to the cor­rect in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture, the stuff­ing in­side may not have reached a tem­per­a­ture high enough to kill harm­ful bac­te­ria. Cook­ing stuff­ing in a sep­a­rate dish is safest.

The di­rect heat from the pot and lengthy cook­ing time com­bine to de­stroy bac­te­ria, mak­ing slow cook­ers a good choice for safely cook­ing foods.

Also, don’t leave per­ish­able foods at room tem­per­a­ture (on the ta­ble or coun­ter­tops) for longer than two hours.

Wash­ing your hands be­fore cook­ing is the sim­plest way to stop the spread of bac­te­ria, while wash­ing your turkey is the eas­i­est way to spread bac­te­ria all over your kitchen. So be care­ful and keep all sur­faces clean.

Now, en­joy pre­par­ing the Thanks­giv­ing feast!

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