If you have a question on buying, storing, preparing, or cooking your turkey this Thanksgiving, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry hotline can help you. The hotline, which recently celebrated its 30th year, is available to answer any question on food safety.
Call 888-674-6854 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, the line is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., but it is closed other government holidays. The hotline is available in Spanish as well. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. Or you can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org; use their virtual food safety representative at askkaren.gov or live chat during specified weekday hours. In addition, the USDA’s FoodKeeper app available on Android and iOS provides information on storage times for foods.
Avian influenza has been in the news recently as it spreads throughout poultry flocks in Iowa. Avian influenza does not impact the foods eaten by consumers and cannot be contracted from properly cooked and prepared meats by consumers. The disease is caused by an influenza virus that can infect poultry such as chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks, and geese, and it is carried by migratory birds such as ducks, geese, and shorebirds. It’s possible that humans could be infected with the virus only if they were in very close contact with sick birds.
Following safe food handling and cooking practices for poultry foods will keep
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw eggs and poultry.
- Clean cutting boards and other utensils with soap and hot water to keep poultry or eggs from contaminating other foods.
- Sanitize cutting boards using a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of water.
- Cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Consumers can cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preferences.
- Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Casseroles and other dishes should be cooked to 165°F.
- Use pasteurized eggs or egg products for recipes that are served using raw or undercooked eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream. Commercial mayonnaise, dressing, and sauces containing pasteurized eggs are safe to eat.
The Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University has additional information for consumers at www.ans.iastate.edu/EIC/Templates/AvianInfluenzaConsumers.dwt.
Source: Angela Laury Shaw, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach