Jan Jeffcoat's inspection and tips for a safer Thanksgiving kitchen

11:20 PM, Nov 27, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - The five easy tips that will make your Thanksgiving kitchen safer are clean, separate, cook, chill, and be careful with the stuffing according to the FDA.

In our test of WUSA9 Anchor Jan Jeffcoat's kitchen she passed a food safety expert's inspection, but even Jan got in trouble for a few common mistakes.

Food scientist Jennifer McEntire called out Jan for storing meat on a shelf above fresh fruit (which can cause contamination), and for not having an separate thermometer in her refrigerator (if your refrigerator isn't at 41 degrees or below, experts say it can make you sick - McEntire and many other experts say 40 is the maximum refrigerator temperature to keep you safe).

Check out the FDA's Food Safety Success Kit by clicking here: http://www.holidayfoodsafety.org/

Here are the FDA's top tips to Thanksgiving proof your kitchen:

1) Clean with warm soapy water:
-Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water (sing the happy birthday song).
-Use hot, soapy water to wash everything that comes into contact with food
-Rinse fruits and vegetables under cold water - use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
-Do not rinse raw meat or poultry before cooking - cooking kills bacteria and washing could splash bacteria to clean surfaces

2) Separate to prevent cross contamination:
-Keep meat, eggs, poultry away from foods that won't be cooked
-Use one cutting board for cooked foods and another for uncooked foods
-Don't put cooked meat on an unwashed plate that held it or anything else uncooked

3) Cook
Use a food thermometer. Turkey is safe when the innermost part of the thigh and wing temperature is 165 degrees.
Bring leftover liquids to a boil before eating
Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
If using raw eggs for egg nog, make sure you're using pasteurized eggs.
Don't eat uncooked cookie dough containing eggs

4) Chill
Two hours is the maximum leftover can stay out before refrigerating
The FDA says keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below and your freezer should be at 0 - you need a thermometer inside.
Don't defrost food at room temperature - defrost in the refrigerator. If you plan to cook right away, you can thaw in the microwave or under cold running water.
A 20 pound turkey takes about five days to defrost in the refrigerator.
Don't taste food that looks or smells odd.
Use your leftover within three to four days.

5) Be careful with the stuffing
Make sure your stuffing is cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees, preferably in a separate casserole.
If stuffing in the turkey, it should be the last thing before putting it in the oven.
If combining wet and dry ingredients, mix them just before cooking.
Stuff the turkey loosely using about ¾ cup.
Extra stuffing can be baked in a casserole dish.

Still have questions? Here are help lines from the FDA and the USDA:

The FDA Food Information Line:  1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366)

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)

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