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Restaurant Association gives Thanksgiving cooking safety tips

Root vegetables and lemon
Sharon Molerus
Root vegetables and lemon

A lot of great food is about to grace tables across New Mexico for Thanksgiving, but the prep work involved can lead to fires or food poisoning, if you’re not careful.

Tom Schuch is the education director at the New Mexico Restaurant Association, and he said home chefs absolutely should not skip defrosting a raw turkey before it gets into the oven.

“It will be burned on the outside and raw in the center,” he said.

However it gets to the oven, a turkey should hit at least 165 degrees Farenheit in the center before it comes out. Schuch said no kitchen is complete without a cooking thermometer.

He also warned against deep frying a turkey unless you really know what you’re doing.

“Especially if you drop a turkey into hot oil with the turkey being wet,” he said. “It could really bubble up and be really dangerous.”

He also said to use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods, like vegetables, and keep your food out of the “danger zone.”

“Generally, the rule is hot food should be 135 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and cold food should be 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. In between that 41 degrees to 135 is what is called the temperature danger zone, and that's where bacteria can grow,” he said.

And do not forget to wash your hands frequently, especially after handling raw meat.

You can find more food prep safety tips at the National Restaurant Association’s website.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners. 

Megan Myscofski is a reporter with KUNM's Poverty and Public Health Project.
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