Tips for safe turkey preparation following raw turkey recall

A massive amount of ground turkey has been recalled less than a week before Thanksgiving. We have some turkey preparation tips to keep you safe. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - More than 91,000 pounds of Jennie-O's ground turkey has been recalled. The recall is tied to a widespread salmonella outbreak across 35 states. One death has been linked to Jennie-O Turkey.

Salmonella and other bacteria could cause illnesses if the turkey isn't prepared properly.

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, shoppers at Hart's Local Grocers in Rochester were picking up their turkeys. Others were onto the fixings and how to cook the turkey.

“Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole,” said Kim Bauman of Hilton. “I look a lot on the Internet of all the fabulous ways people make a turkey. Then, I pretty much put it in a bag, rub it with butter, flour until the bag doesn’t burst, shove it in. I cook it the same way every year.”

Before you feast, the bird has to be prepared in a safe way.

“I have an instant-read thermometer to make sure I cook it to the right temperature,” said Lisa Miller of Rochester.

Infectious disease doctor Maryrose Laguio-Vila with Rochester Regional Health said salmonella most commonly comes from undercooked food and the way you handle it.

“Often, the salmonella can be on the raw turkey,” said Dr. Laguio-Vila. “One way to get it would be if you handle raw turkey and then don’t wash your hands, and then contaminate your own food that you eat.”

Washing your hands is a must, but health experts said you don’t have to wash the bird. Rinsing poultry before putting it into the oven could cause more contamination.

“Washing the poultry seems more of a habit, but doesn’t really have any cleansing purpose,” Dr. Laguio-Vila said. “The water doesn’t clean the germs away, but some people still do that. What it can do - the splatter - is contaminate the rest of your sink and even the counter top next to your sink.”

Symptoms of salmonella infection can develop between 12 and 96 hours after you eat the contaminated food. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Most people recover without treatment.

According to health experts, when handing raw poultry, clean your work space, prepare the poultry, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as well as all the utensils used to prepare the poultry.

For those, however, who still might be concerned about a food-borne illness, Bauman joked about being overly thorough.

“My mother used to say when smoke fills the kitchen, then dinner’s ready,” she laughed.

Health experts said the turkey is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To get an accurate reading, be sure the thermometer is not touching the bone.

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