Health Canada

Health Canada

October 07, 2009 12:59 ET

Information Update: Government of Canada Reminds Canadians of Turkey Safety This Thanksgiving

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 7, 2009) - Cooked turkey is a central part of many holiday celebrations in Canada – especially Thanksgiving. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would like to remind all Canadians of some steps they can take to help ensure their turkey feast is a safe one.

Adopting standard safe cooking and safe handling practices (clean, separate, cook and chill) reduces the risk to yourself and your family from undercooked turkey and stuffing and from cross-contamination during preparation.

To reduce your risk:

  • Store your turkey in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after you buy it.
  • Don't thaw your turkey at room temperature. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water.
  • If you thaw your turkey in cold water, keep the turkey in its original wrapping and change the cold water regularly to ensure that the water remains cold.
  • Don't rinse raw turkey. This can spread bacteria everywhere the water splashes, creating a safety hazard.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and kitchen utensils touched by raw turkey or drippings from thawing turkey.
  • Use a digital food thermometer, and cook turkey until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast or thigh is at least 85ºC (185ºF).
  • Cook stuffing separately in its own oven dish or on the stove top. If you do stuff your turkey, stuff loosely just prior to roasting, and remove all stuffing immediately after cooking. Cook stuffing to a minimum internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF).
  • Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours of cooking.

Turkey poses particular food safety challenges because it can be contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

It's estimated that there are approximately 11 million cases of food-related illnesses in Canada every year. Many of these illnesses could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

More information about safe food preparation is available from:

The Government of Canada's Turkey Food Safety Tip Sheet (

It's Your Health on Let's Talk Turkey

It's Your Health on Holiday Food Safety

Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education website (

Egalement disponible en francais

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Health Canada
    Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Public Enquiries: