Countdown to Turkey Day: Bacterial Danger Zones – Food Safety

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Welcome back!

As we do our countdown, we have been talking about a lot of things that not only ensure you feel confident navigating the logistics and expectations of hosting Thanksgiving, but we are also trying to ensure that you can do so safely. If you are just joining us, you can catch up on everything we have covered so far here.

Grab your timetable from yesterday.

Today we will look it over with an eye on food safety. I want you to think about the bacterial danger zone. When food is in the bacterial danger zone, bacteria can double every twenty minutes.

Avoid the bacterial danger zone of 41°F – 140°F

This is the temperature zone between 41°F and 140°F. Foods meant to be served cold should be held at 40°F or lower, and foods meant to be served hot should be held at 140°F or warmer. Food meant to be hot or cold and left at room temperature for two hours, or longer is no longer safe to serve. Please take a look at your timetable and ensure that none of your foods will be sitting at room temperature for too long.

If you have any dishes that could be approaching that limit, please make a plan now that will ensure you are not approaching that limit. While this typically isn’t a problem for most of the United States in November, if the ambient temperature is 90°F, the maximum food she be allowed to sit out is one hour.

What is the safe temperature to serve foods?

Do you have a food thermometer?

This is the most accurate way to ensure that all of your foods have been cooked to the appropriate safe temperature.

If you made your dressings or casseroles ahead of time, please use your food thermometer and ensure that they are reheated to 165°F before serving them to your guests. This is the minimum safe temperature for reheating leftovers.

Your turkey should also reach an internal temperature of 165°F before being removed from the oven for its 30-minute rest. Be sure when taking the temperature that the probe of your thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the muscle and is NOT touching a bone. Bones conduct heat and will give you a false indication. The thigh is the preferred place to check the temperature, but the thickest part of the breast will do if you aren’t certain of the placement of the probe in the thigh. Do take more than one reading from different locations if you are uncertain whether your turkey was fully thawed.

As we discussed in yesterday’s post, don’t forget your refrigerator, oven, and slow cooker are not the only places that can hold food at safe temperatures. One thing I miss about living in Minnesota is having the back porch as an extra refrigerator. If you don’t live in a place that will be colder than 40°F, you can use a cooler as a temporary refrigerator or hot box.

Are you feeling ready to host Thanksgiving? Do you have any questions?

How is your table looking?

Do you have enough butter? Are you sure?

Previously in the Countdown:

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