Making Your Holiday Meal a Safe One

It is that time of year for holiday cheer and good eats with friends and family. To make this time of year a fun and safe one, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a few Turkey Basics when it comes to preparing food for the holidays.

Four main safety issues to consider when preparing a turkey include:

  • Thawing: Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The “danger zone” is between 40 and 140°F — the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in a microwave oven.
  • Preparing: Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey, and if not cleaned thoroughly, this bacteria can transfer to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods.
  • Stuffing: For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. If you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer to make sure it reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Cooking: Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey is completely thawed. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

To read the full article, and for more information on how to safely prepare your holiday meal, visit the CDC web site.

For more turkey tips, watch Mayo Clinic's series of videos featuring Mayo Clinic chef Richard Johnson:



Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.


To Whom It May Concern:

FYI….There is a conflict between information in your article and what the chef states in the video on “Tip #4 on “Roasting and Resting Your Turkey”.

Web address:

The article states in the 1st sentence of the bullet on cooking,”Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees”.

In the video for Tip #4, the chef, at around 24-25 seconds into the video, states to turn the temperature down to 275.

Could you please clarify? Thank you!

Chef standards and government standards can vary slightly in terms of cooking. However, we recommend following government standards and setting the temperature no lower than 325 degrees. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

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