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Donít invite germs to Thanksgiving dinner!

We know youíre busy putting together Thanksgiving dinner so letís all make sure that 2015 is the year everyone remembers for great food and fun with family, and not food poisoning.

Here are some tips on Thanksgiving food safety. Many of these tips apply to holidays and gatherings year round, so why not clip them out and post them someplace handy, like your refrigerator door?

Preparing: When defrosting your turkey keep it out of the ďdanger zone" where germs multiply quickly. The zone is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can thaw food in the in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven. Donít thaw it at room temperature. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs four to five days to thaw completely when in the refrigerator. Here is more on safe thawing. Click here for a chart based on the weight of your turkey.

Remember to wash your hands and all surfaces, such as cutting boards and knives, after working with raw poultry.

Cooking: Be sure the turkey is completely thawed before you cook it. Take its temperature: use a food thermometer to check if it is done Ė donít rely on the red pop up timer button.

Check the temperature at the center of the stuffing and in the meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. The bird and stuffing must reach at least 165 degrees to be safe, according to the US Department†of†Agriculture (USDA).

Storing: Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Put leftovers in shallow pans or containers to help them cool faster. Eat them within 3 to 4 four days or freeze them for future use.

Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.

Need help?

Call the†USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. Chat live with a food safety specialist at, available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

On Thanksgiving Day, the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central time.†Visit† for questions in Spanish.

1500 South Main Street, Fort Worth, TX 76104

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