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VERIFY: Preparing your Thanksgiving turkey safely

These tips include the best way to thaw a frozen turkey and how you should prepare stuffing to ensure you will have a safe, delicious Thanksgiving feast.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you haven't already, it's time to take out that turkey and start defrosting it for your Thanksgiving feast. 

Whether you're hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner or you're a seasoned pro, cooking the big dinner is a huge responsibility. Especially when it comes to food safety and preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses. 

WCNC Charlotte's VERIFY team is answering some of the most common questions when it comes to preparing a turkey for the ultimate Thanksgiving feast. 

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Can you put stuffing in your turkey before it goes in the oven? 

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Yes, you can put stuffing in your turkey right before it goes in the oven. 


This is true.


"Stuffing is perfectly acceptable to go ahead and stuff your turkey," Coffey said. 

When you take your turkey out of the oven, Coffey says it's critical that your stuffing temperature is at 165 degrees. And whatever you do, don't put the stuffing inside the bird days before you put it in the oven. That can increase the risk of spreading bacteria. 

"Don't make it the day ahead of time," Coffey said. "Go ahead and make it and put it right in the oven. It is perfectly safe to eat."


Can you thaw your turkey at room temperature on the counter? 



This is false.

No, you should not thaw your turkey at room temperature on the counter. 

"We would never recommend leaving the turkey out on the counter," Coffey said. 

The best way to thaw a turkey, according to Butterball, is by placing it in water. Coffey said Butterball recommends 30 minutes per pound in a cold bath. You should change the water every 30 minutes. 

When it's finished thawing, you should play the turkey on a tray and put it in the refrigerator until you cook it. This is the best time to make any preparations, such as seasoning and butter for the turkey. 

The FDA says when your turkey is done, use a food thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. It should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's not 165, your turkey is undercooked and could be dangerous to eat. 

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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