NMED offers safe holiday cooking tips

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By Carol A. Clark

In an effort to help the public avoid food poisoning this holiday season, the New Mexico Environment Department’s Food Safety Bureau is providing safe  turkey cooking tips.


“We want to ensure residents understand proper food preparation and cooking standards so they can have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and holiday season,” said Environmental Health Division Director Carlos Romero in a news release. “Don’t be a turkey – follow these instructions and gobble safely.”


Liz Thomson, owner of Cook’n In Style on 15th Street at Central Avenue carries a host of holiday cooking equipment.


“We have thermometers, roasting pans, basters, lifters, ladles and much more,” she said.


Thomson advises holiday diners to pay special attention to food items containing fresh crème or mayonnaise.


“These and like items should be refrigerated as soon as possible following the meal,” she said.


Romero explained that turkeys can be thawed safely in the refrigerator but the meat should be thawed in its original wrapping and placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.


Turkeys should not be thawed on the counter to avoid the risk of bacteria growth on the meat, he said.


Thawing a turkey outside the refrigerator at room temperature can cause bacteria to multiply on the outside of the meat and produce toxins that might not be destroyed during cooking.


Turkey meat requires about 24 hours of defrosting time for each five pounds of meat – a 20-pound turkey takes four to five days to thaw in the refrigerator.


Turkeys should be cooked at an oven temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit to a final temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The stuffing should reach a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


Stuffing and other leftovers should not remain unrefrigerated more than two hours, Romero said.


For detailed information, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website at www.fsis.usda.gov or call (505) 827-0314.