Thanksgiving Food Safety: USDA Offers Practical Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness and Shares Common Food Preparation Mistakes

Americans will consume more than 40 million turkeys this Thanksgiving. As many households prepare dishes, like turkey, that they do not cook on a regular basis (including many Americans who will be staying home and cooking a Thanksgiving meal for their first time this year), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reminding everyone of proper food handling practices this holiday season.

Each year millions of Americans get sick from foodborne illness, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This Thanksgiving, USDA is reminding cooks to not wash their raw poultry, the best ways to prepare and cook turkey (both frozen and fresh), how to safely store all the delicious Thanksgiving leftovers, and the four steps to food safety.

USDA experts are also available to help dispel many common myths surrounding the preparation and serving of this important holiday meal and can answer questions such as: How long does it take to thaw a turkey? Should I wash my turkey? Should I stuff my turkey? How long do I cook my turkey? How do I know when my turkey is ready to eat?

For advice about how to safely prepare the turkey and all other menu items this Thanksgiving Day, consumers can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety expert at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. If anyone needs last minute help on Thanksgiving Day, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Visit or follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at for the latest food safety tips.

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