The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert last week due to concerns the Salmonella Heidelberg bacteria that may be associated with ground turkey. After ongoing investigations conducted by various departments of health across the nation, it was determined that the consumption of ground turkey products is connected to 77 illnesses reported in 26 states. Here are some tips from the Food Safety and Inspection Service for keeping safe while cooking turkey, despite the health warning:
- While cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the patty in order to attain 165 °F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling).
- The original temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen) is important to note so that the final temperature of 165 °F can be reached. Please do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the patty- always use a food thermometer.
- Leftovers should also should be reheated to 165 °F, and the color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. For example, the meat of smoked turkey is always pink.
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Clean up spills right away.
- Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
- Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
Read the full public health notice here.