BROOME, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – As many get ready to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, the Broome County Health Department is offering tips to ensure that your bird is cooked safely.

According to the Health Department, they often see an uptick in food poisoning cases around the holidays.

So to help avoid that, here are the Health Department’s tips on how to properly prep and cook a turkey:

  • Turkey must be thawed and cooked within certain temperature ranges to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. If you’ll be cooking a fresh turkey, buy it within one or two days of cooking and serving it. Refrigerate it immediately and be sure that your refrigerator is set at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • When selecting a frozen turkey be sure to look for one that is solidly frozen. A frozen turkey should be stored in a freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below. Thawing time for a frozen turkey depends on its weight and the method used. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature because the higher temperature promotes growth of disease-causing bacteria.
  • The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. You should allow 24 hours in the refrigerator for every five pounds of turkey.
  • A frozen turkey can also be thawed in cold running water. This takes about 6 hours for a 12-pound turkey and 12 hours for a 20-pund turkey.
  • Thawed turkeys can then be kept in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 days after thawing.
  • Once thawed, remove the turkey’s neck and giblet pieces, then wash it out with cold water.
  • It’s better to cook stuffing outside the turkey because a stuffed turkey takes longer to reach the proper internal temperature to be safe to eat. If stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, stuff it very loosely and ensure it reaches a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Be sure to wash everything that comes in contact with the uncooked turkey with hot, soapy water.
  • Read the label for cooking instructions and check the temperature with a food thermometer. The internal temperature of the center of the meet, away from the bone, should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When storing leftovers, remove turkey from the bone and refrigerate it within two hours of cooking. Use leftover turkey or stuffing within 3 days and leftover gravy within 1-2 days.

For more information about food safety, you can call the Broome County Health Department at 778-2847.