Springfield-Greene County Health Department offers Thanksgiving food prep tips to prevent illness

Many of us will be sitting down at the table ready to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this week, but the Springfield Greene County Health Department wants to prepare
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 8:56 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Many of us will be sitting down at the table ready to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this week, but the Springfield-Greene County Health Department wants you to prepare food properly to prevent people from getting sick.

First, you want to make sure your turkey is properly thawed. A 16-pound turkey can take up to 4 days to thaw in the fridge.

“Turkeys are large, large birds, and they take a long time to thaw,” Said Springfield-Greene County Health Department Program Director Eric Marcol. “USDA recommends one day for every four to five pounds of turkey. So if you’ve got a 16-pound turkey, you’re looking at about a four-day thaw period. Of course, we want to thaw those turkeys inside the refrigerator.”

Before cooking, wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds to kill any germs that could make people sick. When prepping your bird, be sure to keep the raw meat separate from other ready-to-eat foods.

“We want to separate those two, so we don’t get involved with what we call cross-contamination,” said Marcol. “You want to prepare raw foods in one area of the kitchen and ready-to-eat foods in a different area, if not separate cutting boards, and even better at different times. We want to eliminate any potential for cross-contamination from one area to the other. It’s best to try to separate where they’re prepared.”

Make sure to keep the raw meat separate from other ingredients to avoid cross-contamination. Avoid letting food sit at room temperature for too long when setting the food out on the table. When food sits at room temperature, bacteria begins to grow, leading to your guests getting sick.

“While we serve our food, we want to make sure we keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold,” said Marcol. “So if there’s a warming plate or a way to keep foods on the stovetop while we’re doing our serving, that’s great. Also, after our meal, we want to make sure that we encourage people to put leftovers away quickly. We don’t want to leave leftovers at room temperature for too long because that gives an opportunity for bacteria to grow. "

Use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey. Test the temperature by sticking the thermometer in the thickest portion of the thigh; you’ll know it’s fully cooked when it reaches 165°F.

For more food safety tips CLICK HERE.

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