Beyond true holiday emergencies like kitchen fires, there are other, more minor issues that still have the potential to cause panic.
Like, how long should I cook my turkey? And how do I know it’s really done?
Don’t worry: You got this! Here are some handy food safety resources from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that can give you the info – and confidence – you need.
- Meat and Poultry Hotline: Sometimes, you just want to talk to a real person. With this free hotline, solving your turkey emergency is only a phone call away. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). The line is staffed with food safety and nutrition experts on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Night owl? Don’t sweat it – callers can listen to pre-recorded food safety advice 24/7.) Since debuting in 1985, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered more than 2 million phone calls about safe storage, handling and preparation of meat, poultry and eggs.
- Ask USDA: How long can I keep a cheese plate out before it needs refrigerated? How do I know if my leftovers are still safe to eat? Get quick answers online from Ask USDA, a well-organized database of the top-asked questions from the hotline. Bonus: Live chat is available during specified weekday hours.
- Email: If email’s more your thing, fire off a question to MPHotline.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Let’s Talk Turkey: Check out the USDA’s “Let’s Talk Turkey” time and temperature guides for thawing, roasting, storing and reheating your turkey.
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This story was originally published in 2014. It was updated in 2019 with new information.