Don't wash the turkey: Thanksgiving food safety tips

Denise Dador Image
Thursday, November 24, 2016
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Hill Street Cafe General Manager Mark Kim shared Thanksgiving food safety tips.

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (KABC) -- At the Hill Street Cafe in La Canada Flintridge, chefs make Thanksgiving dinner all year round. Turkey breast and all the fixings are a menu staple.

General Manager Mark Kim said food safety is a top priority in his kitchen with a staff trained in how to prevent cross contamination.

However, according to Kim, many at home do not know the basics. Their first mistake is washing the turkey.

"The splash of the water can go up to three to four feet long," Kim said.

Turkeys may contain harmful pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. If they get onto kitchen counters, other foods touching the surfaces can become contaminated.

"That's why it's recommended not to wash any kind of fresh meat," Kim said.

After cooking a turkey, it is important to use a meat thermometer to make sure the breast, wings and thighs all read 165 degrees.

"Over that, it's going to be overcooked and it's going to become dry. Below that, it's not cooked at all," Kim said.

If expecting guests all day, it is advised to not leave food on the table for more than two hours. Anything sitting in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees gives bacteria the opportunity to flourish.

Experts say leftovers are good in the refrigerator for up to four days, but also say to be sure that bones are removed from the meat.

"From the bone (it can) contaminate the meat too," Kim said.

Leftover meat can last in the freezer for up to four months.

Another important reminder for Thanksgiving cooks is to not forget to wash hands frequently and bring gravy to a boil before re-serving.