Turkey and stuffing are a classic Thanksgiving pairing. But if not done correctly, packing the stuffing inside the bird can create a risk for foodborne illness.
According to the K-State Research and Extension and University of Missouri Extension consumer food safety specialist, Londa Nwadike, cooking the stuffing outside of the turkey is generally the safest option because then you know the stuffing is hot enough.
“You know, if you do decide to stuff the turkey, make sure that you’re stuffing it loosely,” Nwadike said. “Just before cooking, you know, make sure that your stuffing is moist, that way the heat can penetrate it better.
“Making sure that the internal temperature of the coldest point of the stuffing is 165 degrees is really important,” she added.
Nwadike says just because you haven’t gotten sick from bad food practices up to this point, doesn’t mean you won’t.
“You might not get sick every time you do a bad practice, so you think ‘oh, I’ve been doing that bad practice a lot of times and it’s been fine,’” said Nwadike. “But we want to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you in the future either, so we just want to reduce the risk as much as possible.”
Some common food safety mistakes made during the Thanksgiving holiday include thawing the turkey in the sink; rinsing the turkey in the sink; not using a thermometer to make sure the thickest part of the breast and innermost part of the wing and thigh reach 165-degrees; and not getting leftovers into the refrigerator within two hours of being served.