Steer clear of meal prep mishaps in the kitchen this Thanksgiving.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Douglas County Health Department offered the following advice to avoid burns, bacteria and other food safety problems:

  • Wash your hands often while preparing meals. Don’t prepare food if you’re sick.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counters with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces.
  • Don’t leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
  • Use the back burners on the stove and keep handles, dishes and pans away from the edge of the stove, counter or table to prevent burns.
  • Buy fresh turkeys only one or two days before cooking.
  • To thaw a frozen turkey, place the bird — in its original wrapper — in the refrigerator. Place in a container to hold the drippings.
  • Allow about 24 hours of thawing time for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. Thawed turkeys can be kept in the fridge for one to two days.
  • If you forget to thaw your turkey, submerge it in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes defrosting time per pound of turkey. Cook immediately once thawed.
  • Avoid thawing foods on the counter.
  • Use a food thermometer to check if the turkey is fully cooked. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Even turkeys with pop-out thermometers should be tested under the wings and thighs to make sure they’re fully cooked.
  • Take stuffing out of the turkey before storing and use leftover turkey within three to four days.

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