Take this food safety quiz before cooking over holidays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gosh!  It’s hard to believe that the beginning of the Holiday season is right around the corner.   And all, thoughts turn to family, food, fun and finding enough time to fit everything in!

Food safety may take a back seat as we take short cuts, prepare foods ahead, cook late into the night, and host numerous holiday feasts.

Before you cook the turkey, set up the buffet, or start making holiday goodies, see how you do on this holiday food safety quiz, based on information from the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.

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Approximately, how long should you allow for thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator?

a. 24 hours per each 1–2 pounds of turkey

b. 24 hours per each 4–5 pounds of turkey

c. 24 hours per each 6–7 pounds of turkey

Answer: b. Place the frozen bird in its original wrapper in the refrigerator (40°F or below). Allow approximately 24 hours per each 4–5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1–2 days.


Size of Turkey = Number of Days

• 4–12 pounds = 1–3 days

• 12–16 pounds = 3–4 days

• 16–20 pounds = 4–5 days

• 20–24 pounds = 5–6 days
What is a safe internal temperature for cooking a whole turkey?

a. 145 degrees

b. 155 degrees

c. 165 degrees

Answer: c. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. A whole turkey is safe cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees throughout the bird. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. If you have stuffed your turkey, the center of the stuffing must also reach 165 degrees.

For reasons of personal preference, you may choose to cook turkey to a higher temperature. All turkey meat, including any that remains pink, is safe to eat as soon as all parts reach at least 165 degrees.

The stuffing should reach 165 degrees, whether cooked inside the bird or in a separate dish. Let turkey stand 20 minutes after removing it from the oven. Remove any stuffing and carve the turkey.


Size of Turkey = Estimated Time to Reach 165 degrees

• 8–12 pounds = 2¾–3 hours

• 12–14 pounds = 3–3¾ hours

• 14–18 pounds = 3¾–4¼ hours

• 18–20 pounds = 4¼–4½ hours

• 20–24 pounds = 4½–5 hours
Which of the following are important practices to follow if stuffing a turkey?

a. Do not mix wet and dry ingredients for a stuffing until just before stuffing the bird

b. Stuff the turkey loosely

c. Cook a stuffed turkey immediately

d. Use a food thermometer

e.  b, c and d f.  All of the above


f. Cooking a home-stuffed turkey is riskier than cooking one not stuffed. Even if the turkey itself has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured in the innermost part of the thigh, the wing and the thickest part of the breast, the stuffing may not have reached a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that may be present. Therefore, we highly recommend that you cook your stuffing or dressing separately in a dish in the oven and not stuffed in your turkey.

What is the longest that perishable food should sit out at room temperature on a buffet table?

a.  2 hours

b.  3 hours

c.  4 hours

Answer: a. Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more. Divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165 degrees. Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter.

Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200–250 degrees) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. Replace empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many people’s hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting out at room temperature. Hold hot foods at 140 degrees or warmer. On the buffet table you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 degrees or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them.

Source: Holiday Food Safety Avoid Guessing About It Compiled by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension Educator

The Escambia County Agents Office will be closed during the Thanksgiving Holiday so if you have questions please call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. They can answer food safety questions on weekdays year-round. This toll-free service provides answers to questions about the safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products. It’s staffed by food safety specialists with backgrounds in home economics, nutrition, and food technology. Call the hotline at: 1-888-674-6854 or send an Email to: mphotline.fsis@usda.gov.