Carve out time for safety when preparing your Thanksgiving feast

In this U.S. Army file photo, the Henry Caro Noncommissioned Officer Academy Dining Facility has a beef entree prepared for the Thanksgiving meal. In the kitchen at home, meal preparation should incorporate safety to preserve life and health of friends and family. (U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

By the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center

Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings friends and family together to share food, conversation and laughter. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home. Take a few minutes to review these Thanksgiving Day kitchen safety tips, and enjoy the holiday without worry.

Food preparation safety is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day. Follow these tips for the health and safety of you and your guests:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you start any food preparation.
  • Make sure working areas and surfaces, utensils and plates are also clean.
  • Use separate cutting or chopping boards for meats and for fruits and vegetables. Avoid putting cooked food on cutting boards that have touched raw food.
  • Avoid wiping your hands that have touched raw food with a dish towel.
  • Keep raw food away from vegetables and side dishes that will not be cooked.
  • Use a timer and do kitchen checks when simmering, baking, broiling and roasting.
  • Cook the turkey immediately after thawing. Don’t slow cook or partially cook the turkey, and check the temperature of the turkey with a meat thermometer to make sure every part of the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set.
  • Stuffing the turkey is not recommended. Cook the stuffing separately. Stuffing should also reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Editor’s note: Stuffing cooked outside the turkey is called dressing.)
  • Leftovers need to be put away within two hours after serving the food.
  • Food should be stored in shallow containers. Meat should be removed from the bone before being put away.

Keep these general safety tips in mind whenever you cook a feast:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food. If deep frying a turkey, keep the fryer outside away from walls, fences and other structures. Do not use a fryer on a wooden deck.
  • Keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources while cooking.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over children, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves when cooking.
  • Make sure all stoves, ovens and ranges have been turned off when you leave the kitchen.
  • Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other food items that require extended cooking times.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Establish a safe zone around the stove while cooking – no children or pets within three feet.
  • Turn handles of pots and pans on the stove inward to avoid accidents.

As a holiday cook and host, keep the safety of your guests uppermost in your mind. Remember these suggestions and have a happy and safe holiday.


To learn more about safety at Fort Benning, visit www.benning.army.mil/Garrison/Safety.

To learn more about safety in the Army, visit https://safety.army.mil.

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