5 Tips for Christmas Turkey Safety

The Importance of Safe Turkey Preparation

Christmas table setting

As we have another Christmas with the pandemic, it is still very important to follow safe preparation practices for your Christmas turkey. The risk of foodborne illness is always present. By following these 5 tips, your Christmas meal will be safely prepared.

Turkey Preparation

As everyone knows, remember to always wash hands with warm or hot water and soap before, during and after preparing and serving the turkey.

Turkey in the raw


Cross-contamination must be avoided. For example, do not use the same knife and cutting board to handle the raw and then cooked turkey. The contamination of the raw blood and juices to the cooked turkey via the knife and board can result in bacterial growth and cause a foodborne illness.

Christmas Tree

Safe Defrosting

Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator or cold water but never at room temperature. I once had a group of hockey parents who decided to defrost their turkeys for the team Christmas party on the ice rink overnight! The turkeys were then cooked and served at their banquet the next day. Unfortunately, 33 parents and children became ill because the turkeys were improperly defrosted.

Christmas Breakfast

How To Stuff Properly

Stuffing tastes delicious, but can act like a sponge inside a raw turkey and soak up blood and bacteria allowing for bacterial growth. Either place stuffing into the turkey immediately before going into the oven or cook the stuffing separately.

Cooked turkey

Cook To The Correct Temperature

Cook the turkeys internally to 74C 165F and check with a thermometer placed in the center of the bird.


After the Meal

After the meal, cut up the turkey into smaller portions and cool quickly before refrigerating.

Christmas Tea

Don’t Forget!

Lastly, don’t leave the cooked turkey in the oven overnight. One of my students did this and was not happy to learn that the turkey had to be thrown out as it had been in the Danger Zone for too many hours!

Have a wonderful Christmas meal by following these 5 food safety tips.

Christmas Teapots