“While many of us grew up with the traditional stuffed turkey at Thanksgiving, these days it’s not recommended,” says Jacky Graham, general merchandise manager from Otter Co-op. “It’s a question that comes up every holiday season but even if you’ve never had an issue in the past, there’s good reason to consider preparing your stuffing on the side this year.”
As Health Canada explains, raw turkey can harbour a variety of bacteria like salmonella, and stuffing has a tendency to absorb any liquid it comes in contact with, including raw turkey juices. Normally, heating those juices to the recommended minimum temperature of 165°F is enough to eliminate the health risks but stuffing inside a turkey takes longer to reach that temperature then the turkey does – in fact, it can even cause uneven cooking, leaving some areas undercooked.
So whats what’s the answer to the great turkey debate?
Experts say it’s safest to cook turkey and stuffing separately. However, we’ve also shared best practices for both stuffed and unstuffed turkeys, just incase you’re determined to make grandma’s famous stuffed turkey anyway.
- Thawing: The safest way to thaw a turkey is in the fridge – allow for approximately 24 hours per five pounds. You could use a microwave or cold water but never thaw at room temperature.
- Prepping: Wash and sanitize everything that comes in contact with the turkey…except the turkey itself. Do not rinse raw turkey in the sink as this increases the risk of cross-contamination.
- Cooking: Make sure your turkey reaches a minimum temperature of 165°F at its thickest part. Double check the temperature under the drumstick where it takes the longest to heat up being sure to sanitize the thermometer in-between temperature checks.
- Safety tips for stuffed turkeys: If you do stuff your turkey, do so right before you cook it, make sure the stuffing itself reaches a minimum temperature of 165°F. Wait 20 minutes after removing the turkey from the oven to remove the stuffing, this gives the stuffing some extra time to continue cooking.
Find everything you need for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner – including the perfect turkey! – at the Otter Co-op retail store in Langley and earn money back on every purchase with an Otter Co-op membership! Available for a one-time fee of $10 with no annual renewal fees. This past July co-op members received $6.2 million in patronage refunds through cash and equity, based on their purchases.
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