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

Department Issues Food Safety Tips for Making Thanksgiving Meals

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 21, 2022) - The New York State Department of Health is reminding all New Yorkers of the importance of safe food preparation ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The Department encourages people to take proper food safety precautions to prevent foodborne illnesses.

"We want to ensure that New Yorkers avoid foodborne illness and stay healthy during the holiday season, as Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and friends," State Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "Practicing simple food preparation safety throughout the holidays is an easy way to prevent foodborne illnesses and help keep friends and family healthy."

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 a turkey in hot water or by leaving it on the counter.
  • Properly thaw a frozen turkey in one of these three ways:
    • Refrigerator thawing: Allow roughly 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. After thawing, a turkey is safe in a refrigerator for one to two days.
    • Cold water thawing: Allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey, and submerge the turkey in its original wrapping to avoid cross-contamination. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. The turkey must be cooked immediately after thawing.
    • Microwave thawing: To thaw a turkey that fits in the microwave, follow the microwave oven manufacturer's instructions. Cook the turkey immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the thawing process.
  • 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.