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 LANSING, Mich., Nov. 20 ~PRNewswire~ -- Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook, you probably cook a turkey no more than a few times a year. This reminder of a few common-sense turkey tips will help to make your cooking experience a pleasure and will help ensure that your family's holiday is a healthy one.
 Many of the tips apply to other kinds of poultry and meats. They are intended to prevent food poisoning. The bacteria salmonella is most often found in poultry and eggs, and can make you sick. It is especially serious for the very young, very old or chronically ill.
 Preparing the Bird for Cooking
 -- If you buy a frozen turkey, you can keep it in your freezer up to several months without compromising quality. If it's a fresh turkey, buy it one or two days ahead. Poultry spoils faster than other meats.
 -- For quality, buy only a USDA Grade A bird. Grade A poultry has a good shape~structure, fat covering, and is free of pinfeathers and defects such as cuts and bruises.
 -- It's best to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator. It will take a minimum of 24 hours defrost time for every 5 pounds of turkey. For example, a 20-pound bird will take 4-5 days to thaw.
 If you need to speed up defrosting, it is safe to soak a wrapped bird in a large sink of cold water. Check or change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes per pound to defrost this way.
 A turkey can also be thawed in a microwave oven. Since microwave ovens vary in their capacity, check with the manufacturer's instructions for the size turkey that will fit into your oven.
 Never thaw the turkey at room temperature. It can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
 -- Once thawed, rinse the turkey in cold water and drain well. To prevent the spread of potentially harmful bacteria, wash your hands, utensils, countertop and sink with soap and water. This rule applies to anything touched by raw turkey.
 -- Never, never stuff your turkey in advance because harmful bacteria can multiply in the stuffing and cause food poisoning. Stuff birds only at the last minute or place the stuffing in a casserole dish and cook it separately.
 Roasting the Turkey
 -- Place the turkey breast side up in a shallow roasting pan. You may want to brush with oil or melted margarine. Use a "tent" made of aluminum foil over the top of the turkey. This will keep the turkey moist. Remove it 20 to 30 minutes before the turkey is done to brown the skin.
 -- Use a meat thermometer. Insert it through the foil into the thickest part of the thigh muscle without touching the bone. The inner thigh is the area that heats most slowly. Remove the turkey from the oven when dark meat reaches 180 degrees and the stuffing reaches 165 degrees.
 -- Never partially cook the bird even if you plan to resume cooking the next morning. Bacteria will multiply in the turkey.
 During the Thanksgiving Feast
 -- Don't leave turkeys at room temperature for more than two hours and while out, keep covered with foil or a damp cloth to prevent the meat from drying out.
 -- Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. No food should be left in the danger zone (between 40 and 140 degrees) for more than two hours.
 -- Don't leave out serving utensils, such as knives and forks, to reuse or to use in more than one dish. Food left on utensils dries and can harbor bacteria. It's wisest to wash serving utensils frequently and use one utensil per dish.
 -- Foods containing meat, poultry or dairy products are perishable and must remain refrigerated until you're ready to use them. This includes pumpkin or cream-type pies, and cakes with cream cheese or egg- white icings.
 -- You can leave out for most of the day raw fruits and vegetables, hard cheeses, fruit pies, most cakes and sweets.
 After Dinner
 -- After dinner, carve all leftovers from the bone and refrigerate immediately in a tightly sealed dish or plastic wrap covered with foil.
 -- If you wish to make turkey soup, break up the carcass and refrigerate it in several, small, tightly sealed containers and make soup as soon as possible.
 -- All other leftovers should also be refrigerated. (A helpful tip: clean out your refrigerator a few days before the holiday, making room for all the Thanksgiving leftovers.)
 For more information about food handling, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture's Food Division at 517-373-1060 or the United States Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 800-535-4555.
 ~CONTACT: Al Hafner of MDA food division, 517-373-1060; or Ellen Jones of MDA press and public affairs division, 517-373-1104~

CO: Michigan Department of Agriculture ST: Michigan IN: FOD SU:

KE-ML -- DE011 -- 3346 11~20~92 11:55 EST
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Date:Nov 20, 1992

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