By Bria Brown

(PATCH) – Thanksgiving is fast approaching and with COVID-19 spreading throughout the state, a lot of Michiganders may be preparing their first turkey on Nov. 26.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has tips for new and experienced Thanksgiving chefs alike. Everything starts with four simple steps: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean

Cleaning is the first and easiest step. Cooks should wash their hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds, recommendations made familiar to everyone at the onset of the pandemic.

Utensils and cooking surfaces should also be scrubbed down. That means washing surfaces with hot water, soap and a rag. Then sanitize those surfaces to kill bacteria. The USDA recommends using commercially-available sanitizers.
Surfaces should be re-cleaned after they come in contact with raw meat and poultry.

Separate

Keep raw meat and poultry away from ready-to-eat foods, Carothers said. Ready-to-eat foods should not come into contact with any uncleaned surfaces used by raw meats.

If counter space is limited, make sure you clean surfaces used by raw meats before they are used for other foods.

Cook

All meats should be cooked to a safe internal temperature to ensure you’re killing all bacteria, Carothers said. Turkeys should be cooked to 165 degrees and chefs should check the turkey’s temperature in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh.

Every year, USDA fields problems from cooks who relied solely on a turkey’s pop-up thermometer. Carothers said that device only checks the bird’s temperature in one place, when three spots must be checked.

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