Thanksgiving food preparation and storage tips

Posted at 5:45 AM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 08:09:44-05

Thanksgiving is all fun and games until food poisoning gets involved. A University of Idaho Family and Consumer Safety educator shared some tips and tricks to enjoying your holiday feasts this year without a food-borne illness.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food, after touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, and before eating or drinking.
  • Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs carry germs that can cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to check your foods. Roasts, chops, steaks and fresh ham should rest for 3 minutes after removing from the oven or grill.
  • Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature. After food is cooked, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. 
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods. Prevent juices from meat, poultry, and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags.
  • Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.

Not sure what your foods internal temperature should be? Don't worry we've got you covered.

Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb
Steaks, chops, roasts
145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground meats 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully Cooked Ham
(to reheat)
Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).


Product Minimum Internal Temperature
All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffing) 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Eggs 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Fish & Shellfish 145 °F (62.8 °C)
Leftovers 165 °F (73.9 °C)
Casseroles 165 °F (73.9 °C)