Thanksgiving meal

10 Tips for Food Safety on Thanksgiving Day

We’re less than a week away from pumpkin pie, turkey with cranberry and sweet potato casserole! Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your home this year? Follow these tips for a safe and happy holiday for your family this turkey day:

  • Thaw safely. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator at 40 degrees for 24 hours for every four or five pounds before cooking it.
  • Wash your hands! Use warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Don’t rinse the bird. Rinsing raw meat and poultry before cooking can spread bacteria to areas around the sink and counter tops.
  • Double up on cutting boards. Consider using one cutting board only for raw meat and poultry and another one for things like raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Check your food temps. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165°F.
  • Keep kids out of the kitchen. Kids should stay away from the cooking area and the stove to prevent burns or other injuries.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy. The threat of fires in the kitchen triples on Thanksgiving Day, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Don’t leave out the leftovers. Make sure to put items in the refrigerator within two hours after serving.
  • Enjoy your holiday cheer responsibly. Know your limit, eat food while you drink alcoholic beverages and have a glass of water in between drinks. Never let your guests drive home intoxicated.
  • Be careful hanging those holiday lights! Thanksgiving or the day after is a popular time for decking the halls with Christmas décor.
  • Don’t attempt to hang decorations by yourself. Always make sure someone is with you to hold the ladder at the bottom and to call for help in case of an emergency. Never get on the roof to hang lights and don’t overextend yourself trying to reach for that corner or peak on top of your garage. If your ladder isn’t tall enough, go grab a different one.

Happy Thanksgiving from our Texas Health family to yours!


Lawan Smith, R.N., B.S.N., is manager of the trauma program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

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