Let's Talk Turkey - TSC Associates

Let’s Talk Turkey

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the preparations for feasts are in full swing.  What better time to Talk Turkey! Do you know the best practices to avoid foodborne illness on Turkey Day?  Test yourself with the turkey quiz created by TSC Associate’s own Chef Rhonda Woods below!


1. Who should you purchase a frozen turkey from? What are the criteria to accept at receiving? Storing?

Frozen turkeys should only be purchased from a reputable source. Turkeys should be frozen solid with no signs of having been refrozen.  You should store the turkeys in the freezer until ready to thaw.

2. Describe safe cooler storage and best method for thawing frozen turkey?

Although there is more than one way to thaw a frozen turkey, the best method is to thaw it on a pan at the bottom of a cooler/refrigerator.  Remember to keep is temperature at 41°F (5°C) or lower. The key is to plan ahead! Thawing a turkey could take up to 6 days.

3. How do you safely prepare raw turkey?

Raw turkey should be prepared on a clean and sanitized surface. Make sure to minimize the spread of any juices. Be careful to clean and sanitize all surfaces and equipment that came into contact with the raw turkey before using again.

4. What is the minimum internal cooking temperature for turkeys with and without stuffing?

Turkeys should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).  Stuffing in the turkey should also reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

5. Do you know the hold time and temperature for hot and cold service?

Hot foods should be held at 135°F (57°C) or higher. Cold foods should be held at 41°F (5°C) or lower. Food temperature should be checked at least every four hours. Check out our blog post The Clock is Ticking: Understanding the Time Limits for TCS Foods for more safe practices for holding hot and cold foods.

6. What is the safe method for cooling and what are the steps for cooling quickly?

Foods must pass through the Temperature Danger Zone quickly when cooling to reduce pathogen growth.  To cool turkey quickly and safely, cut the turkey into small portions and cool to 70°F (21°C) or less within two hours.  Then cool the turkey from 70°F to 41°F (21°C to 5°C) or lower in the next four hours. Do not store hot foods in the cooler.

7. Where in the cooler is it safe to store fully cooked, cooled turkey?

Fully cooked, cooled turkey should be stored above any raw poultry, meats, or seafood.

8. What are the time and minimum internal temperature for safe reheating?

TCS foods, such as turkey, should be reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for 5 seconds. The food should reach this temperature within 2 hours from start to finish.

9. How long can cooked, cooled turkey be kept in the cooler?

According to the USDA, cooked turkey should be discarded within 3-4 days after cooking.

How well did you do on your turkey quiz? Ready to learn more? Check out our Food Handler and Food Manager training! We’d love to help you and your staff with your food safety training needs!

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