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ODA talks turkey to those who prepare the holiday meal

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With Thanksgiving approaching, it's time to think about that big holiday meal and how to prepare it safely:

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All it takes for a safe Thanksgiving dinner is proper food handling, preparation, and storage, according to Susan Kendrick of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The centerpiece of the big meal is the holiday turkey, which, if it's a frozen bird, should not just sit out on the counter to thaw:

KENDRICK: "What we'd like you to do is put it in the refrigerator and- you are going to have to plan ahead- it takes about 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey to thaw. So if you have a big turkey, you probably need to put it in the refrigerator four or five days ahead of time." :14

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Cook the turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and use a meat thermometer to make sure. Also be aware of cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards, knives, and other utensils when you handle raw foods along with ready-to-eat-foods. After the feast, there no doubt will be leftovers:

KENDRICK: "Well, it's good to get it back in the refrigerator as soon as possible and, most typically, to take the meat off the bone so you don't have a large chunk of meat that you are trying to rapidly cool in the refrigerator. Then put it in shallow pans and make sure that the temperature comes down as quickly as possible." :17

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Good techniques and common sense will ensure a safe and satisfying meal for family and friends this holiday season. In Salem, I'm Bruce Pokarney.

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KENDRICK says the holidays are a good time to be extra careful about proper food handling and preparation:

"It is cause for some concern. You want to make sure, when you are doing your prep, that you are avoiding cross-contamination and are keeping the raw meat, the turkey, separate from any ready-to-eat foods." :12

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KENDRICK says leftover turkey is always a treat, but you want to remember some simple rules:

"Probably best to just reheat once and to think ahead of time about how much of that leftover turkey you will be able to eat within a few days. You might want to freeze some of it so that it will last longer." :11

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