This Thanksgiving, Avoid a Horror Story

Johnson and the USDA also point out it's critical to cook the turkey to the correct temperature, at least 165 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer in three separate places, in the thigh, in the wing joint and in the thickest part of the breast. Johnson, who has a degree in nutrition dietetics and has been working the Butterball hotline for over a decade, says if you've stuffed the turkey, you also need to put the thermometer into the center of the stuffing and make sure the temperature there reaches 165 degrees.

It turns out stuffing is a touchy subject. There are those insist on stuffing their bird, and those who make the stuffing separately. From a safety standpoint, stuffing your turkey could be hazardous to your health if it's not done carefully.

"There are bacteria in the cavity of turkey," said the USDA's Van, "Stuffing is a rich medium for bacteria to grow." Van says if you do stuff your turkey, put the stuffing in right before you cook it, and pack it in loosely.

Dessert should be handled properly too. Van recommends thoroughly cooking that pumpkin pie, and storing it in the refrigerator until you're ready to indulge.

As for Thanksgiving leftovers, they should be eaten within three or four days.

Most of us will sit down happily and safely to our Thanksgiving dinner, but Taylor says he's still leery. "I don't have the taste for Thanksgiving dinner… it doesn't excite me as it used to," he said. It won't keep him from the table this year, but he'll be asking all his questions before he takes that first bite.

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