Grandma's Done it Again: Thanksgiving Foods that Poison the Family

November 18, 2013
by Michael Barber
Grandma's Done it Again: Thanksgiving Foods that Poison the Family

We are grateful for many things on Thanksgiving, but since the very first, Thanksgiving has always been about feasting as a group and enjoying the day. There are some basic food safety issues for Turkey Day, however, so be careful to avoid some of these common food poisoning mishaps.

Buying a Turkey cites the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) saying the time in which you place that frozen turkey in the shopping cart makes a difference. The turkey should be the last thing you place in your cart before heading to the cashier. Most Thanksgiving food shopping is lengthy because we make our lists and hope we can get everything all in one trip. Making the turkey last on your list avoids it from starting to thaw too early, giving it a higher chance to grow unwanted bacteria.

Related: Accident Prone: Common Holiday Accidents [INFOGRAPHIC]

Thawing and Cooking a Turkey

Be sure to thaw and fully cook your turkey to avoid food poisoning and a trip to an urgent care location near you for medical treatment.

  • Thawing in the Refrigerator: The USDA says one to two days before Thanksgiving, remove the turkey from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. Place the frozen bird inside a baking sheet to catch leaking juices to avoid cross-contamination with other foods. A good rule of thumb is to allow 24 hours thawing time for every five pounds of turkey.
  • Thawing in Water: You can also thaw a frozen turkey in your sink in cold water. To do this, immerse the frozen turkey (keep in original packing) in cold water. Then change the water and turn the turkey every 30 minutes until completely thawed.
  • Cooking the Bird: offers great step-by-step tips on how to cook a turkey properly. Once the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it's cooked thoroughly.

Don't Cross-Contaminate Foods

With your refrigerator stuffed with foods that need to be cooked, and those that don't, it's easy to cross-contaminate foods allowing bacteria to spread. In other words, keep raw meats, fish, and poultry away from salad veggies and fruits.

Bacteria that spreads to foods you aren't cooking like salad ingredients or fresh fruit may cause food poisoning once ingested. If anyone experiences symptoms of food poisoning like nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea, head to a retail clinic that offers emergency medical care.

Related: 4 Food Safety Tips to Always Keep in Mind

Be Careful with Vegetables

Raw vegetables that are grown in the ground like carrots or potatoes, are often contaminated with soil bacteria, according Live Science, so be sure to wash them thoroughly and remove outer peels before cooking.

Store Foods Correctly

Once the meal is over, it's best to place foods in the refrigerator in air-tight containers as soon as possible. If you leave any food out on the table longer than two hours, dump that food to avoid food poisoning. Also pay attention when reheating leftovers and cook them to 140 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.

Related: The Gross Facts About Food Poisoning

Make your Thanksgiving meal safe and skip the chances of food poisoning by following these smart and sensible tips.