Information released by the Wyoming Poison Center takes aim at good and bad food handling practices to help people have a safe and efficient Thanksgiving holiday.

According to the Wyoming Poison Center and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans will get sick from dangerous food borne bacteria this Thanksgiving season.  The holiday meal and its preparation is the centerpiece of the day's celebrations and safe food handling in the kitchen is a very important part of the holiday.

To keep your friends and family safe from food poisoning there are certain steps that everyone should know.  Before you start; all kitchen helpers should follow a strict hand washing policy by using warm water and soap for 20 seconds, before and after handling food.  The following crucial safety tips can help you have a safe holiday celebration:

  • Do keep turkey it its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook.
  • Do wash hands with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds before food preparation.
  • Do defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or cold running watter.
  • Do allow one day per every 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator.  In a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.  A 20 pound turkey will take 12 hours to defrost in cold water.
  • Do use a meat thermometer to check if turkey is done.  The turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches 165  degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Do remove stuffing immediately after turkey is cooked.
  • Do store the turkey and stuffing separately.
  • Do store leftover turkey in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.
  • Do store leftover stuffing and gravy in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days


  • Don't defrost a turkey at room temperature.  Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on the outer layers before the inner layers have defrosted.
  • Don't leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than 2 hours.
  • Don't partially cook the turkey one day and continue roasting the next day.
  • Don't prepare food if you are sick or have any nose or eye infection.
  • don't leave leftovers out on the counter longer than 2 hours.
  • Don't store leftover stuffing in the turkey.
  • Don't re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.
  • Don't stuff turkeys completely.  It makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit within a safe period of time.  If you must stuff your turkey, stuff it lightly before cooking and leave room for the oven to cook the interior of the turkey and the stuffing.