Experts provide cooking safety tips ahead of Thanksgiving

Experts provide cooking safety tips ahead of Thanksgiving

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, with the National Fire Protection Association reporting 1,600 fires in 2017.

Gary Vaughn, the division chief of Lubbock Fire Rescue, said the most common mistake is leaving food unattended.

"Never leave the room. If you're cooking something stay in the kitchen and keep track of it, and if you're cooking a turkey in the oven, it's best not to leave the home," Vaughn said.

The department also discourages deep frying turkeys, he said. Vaughn said if it is not done properly, the oil overflows and catches fire from the burner.

"If you like your turkey cooked that way, go to somebody who does it professionally, or there's options of oil-less fried turkeys ... other than that, just cook it the old fashioned way," Vaughn said.

Before the holidays, Vaughn said test your smoke alarms, and get one if you do not have one.

Scott Nettles, with United Market Street, said a turkey should be thawed inside the refrigerator. It should be stored on the bottom shelf to avoid bacteria-laden juices dripping onto food stored below. Nettles also said to use a meat thermometer.

"What you really want to do is make sure you get the internal temperature in the breast of the turkey, the thickest part, up to 165 degrees, and make sure whenever you put it in there, you don't touch the bone, you just get it right in the heart of the turkey," Nettles said.

After handling raw turkey, wash hands and sanitize any work spaces, Nettles said. Not doing so can introduce food borne illnesses, like E. coli or salmonella.

"You want to put a bacterial soap and clean that," Nettles said. "You can use bleach or any kind of antibacterial soap or sanitizer to clean your surface. You definitely do not want to put..have anything else come in contact with the same surface you put raw meat on. It's just dangerous, you can cross contaminate, and you definitely don't want to do that."

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