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Ohio ranks ninth nationally in turkey production with more than 236 million pounds of turkey produced. In 2016, the value of turkey produced in Ohio was nearly $196 million.

About Turkey Safety & Turkey Handling

From turkey cutlets and deli meats to turkey sausage and whole birds, consumers can be assured that they are getting their money's worth. Turkey is a nutrient-dense, low-fat, high-protein food that is available at a relatively low price. To assure maximum enjoyment of your turkey products, follow these recommended practices for buying, storing, and preparing turkey.

Buying turkey safely (National Turkey Federation)

Check the date stamp:

  • A "sell by" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. Consumers should buy the product before the date expires.
  • A "best if used by (or before)" date is for best flavor or quality.
  • A "use-by" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.

Thawing tips (From National Turkey Federation)

  • Never defrost turkey on the counter
  • The refrigerator thawing method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. Whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • In cold water, changed every 30 minutes, turkey takes about 30 minutes per pound to thaw.
  • When using a microwave to thaw a turkey, follow the manufacturer's instructions for the size turkey that will fit in your oven, the minutes per pound and the power level to use. Turkey thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately.

Safely stuffed turkey Top of Page

  • Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it's placed in the oven for cooking. If preparing the stuffing ahead of time, wet and dry ingredients should be refrigerated separately and combined right before stuffing the turkey.
  • Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey.

When is the turkey done? Top of Page

  • Use a two-step test for turkey doneness:
    • First, insert a meat thermometer into the deepest portion of the thigh, not touching bone, and allow it to come to temperature for an accurate reading.
    • Second, once the thigh has reached 180° F, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.
  • Once the stuffing has reached 165° F, the turkey should be removed from the oven.

How should leftovers be stored? Top of Page

Leftovers should be stored in shallow containers and refrigerated or frozen within two hours of cooking. Remove the stuffing and carve the extra turkey meat from the bones. Use cooked turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days and gravy in 1-2 days. Cooked turkey keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer.

Turkey fryers (From Underwriters Laboratories) Top of Page

Underwriters Laboratories Inc.'s (UL) safety experts are concerned that backyard chefs may be sacrificing safety for good taste.

  • Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil within the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too, may result in an extensive fire.
  • With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer,
here are some tips for safer use
Top of Page

  • Always use outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.
  • Never use on wooden decks or in garages.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use and for hours after.
  • Do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.