It’s less than three days from Thanksgiving, and if you’re roasting a bird you’ll want to make sure your guests don’t end up regretting it on black Friday. LSU AgCenter food safety expert Wenqing Xu says the most important thing you can do to keep the family safe is cooking that turkey long enough to blast the bacteria.

“When you cook your turkey make sure you use a meat thermometer and cook to 165 degrees, and make sure it is safe.”

She says to check the temperature in all potential cold spots, like under the wings.

And while you’re at it, you might want to get a head start on putting that turkey in the fridge so you don’t get defrosted turkey juice all over the counter because you’re trying to get the bird de-iced on short notice.

“Now actually is a good time to take your turkey out and put it in the refrigerator to thaw it, because it never is a good idea to put it on the counter to thaw it.”

Xu added that families shouldn’t leave anything out of the fridge for more than two hours, sides and pies included.

In a surprise suggestion, Xu recommends also not washing the turkey before you bake it. She says it won’t remove any bacteria that should be killed in the oven and could lead to cross-contamination.

“With all of the other things going on, you want to make sure you don’t have your raw turkey on your kitchen counter or splash it into your ready to eat food.”

And as has been recommended for some time now, don’t cook the stuffing inside the turkey.

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