Talking Turkey: Tips for a safe Thanksgiving

by | Nov 20, 2017

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Family and friends will gather around the table this Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving. The star of most of these tables will be the turkey. If you are in North Carolina, that’s great reason to celebrate.

North Carolina is the second-largest producer of turkeys in the nation. In 2016, more than 1.2 billion pounds of turkey were produced in North Carolina.

Whether your Thanksgiving includes waking up early to start a meal for your extended family, watching the Thanksgiving Day parades on television, reading the Black Friday sales ads in the newspaper, or maybe participating in a Turkey Trot 5K in your community, here’s some advice to help you have a safe and successful Thanksgiving.

Purchasing a turkey:

  • Estimate 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • If purchasing a fresh turkey, buy only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Store a fresh turkey in the refrigerator until you cook it.
  • If purchasing a frozen turkey, follow thawing instructions from the USDA.

Roasting a turkey:

  • For safety reasons, USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside the bird in a casserole dish.
  • A whole turkey is safe to eat when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Let turkey stand 20 minutes before carving.

Serving leftovers:

  • Cooked turkey can be eaten cold or reheated.
  • Discard any turkey, stuffing and gravy left out more than 2 hours.
  • Use refrigerated turkey leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

Here’s a list of resources to ensure you have a safe and successful Thanksgiving:

  • Let’s Talk Turkey: This site offers recommendations on how to safely plan, select, thaw and prepare a turkey. There’s even advice on reheating leftover turkey.
  • Compiled by the FDA, this website includes links, podcasts and charts for a variety of turkey-related topics.


Be sure to look for other North Carolina products such as sweet potatoes, collards, turnip greens, eggs (for deviled eggs), pecans, apples and more. Check out a local farmers market or, look for the Got to Be NC logo at the grocery store.