While the Butterball Hotline offers some important cooking tips, so does the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center. Registered nurse and poison center educator Joan McVoy says it’s vital to thaw frozen turkeys properly.
“You want to allow one day for every four to five pounds to defrost in the fridge, don’t just take the turkey out and let it defrost on the counter,” McVoy says. “If you get desperate at the last minute and need to use a cold water bath, make sure you change the water every 30 minutes, make sure the wrapping around the turkey is tight and there’s no leaking and cook that turkey immediately after you thaw it.”
Take care to follow the directions on pre-heating and cooking temperatures when popping the big bird in the oven. “When you’re cooking your turkey, you want to make sure you use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey’s done, not just by how long it’s in the oven,” McVoy says. “The turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches a really safe internal temperature of about 165 degrees and don’t ever set your oven lower than 325.” Food handling is also important -after- the big meal to prevent food-borne illnesses.
“Don’t leave the leftovers out on the counter longer than two hours,” McVoy says. “If you do stuff your turkey, don’t leave the leftover stuffing in the turkey. Leftover turkey in the fridge should be used within three to four days. Use that leftover stuffing and gravy that you store in the refrigerator within one to two days.”
If you have questions, the Sioux City-based Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center is staffed around-the-clock and it’s a free call at 800-222-1222.