Tips to safely cook your Thanksgiving turkey

Updated: Nov. 21, 2017 at 11:38 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It's a mad dash at grocery stores, with millions of people getting ready for Thanksgiving.

If you're already prepping, it's important to follow safety guidelines when it comes to cooking the turkey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says safely thawing your turkey is just as important as cooking it the right way.

You can thaw your turkey by placing it in the refrigerator, microwave or in a sink with cold water. It's important to remember to change the water every 30 minutes.

Avoid leaving your turkey out for longer than two hours, as the temperature inside the turkey will settle to around 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when bacteria is able to grow rapidly.

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When you've thawed your turkey and it's ready to go, don't rinse it beforehand, that will allow bacteria to spread onto your sink and countertop, which can contaminate nearby foods.

No matter how you choose to cook your turkey, make sure your meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees and use it in three spots inside the turkey to make sure it's done; the inner-most part of the breast, wing and thigh.

It's easy to sit around and talk after the turkey is served, but experts say you must refrigerator leftovers within two hours after serving it to prevent bacteria from growing.

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