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Don't buy that fresh Thanksgiving turkey just yet

Saturday - 11/23/2013, 8:21am  ET

WASHINGTON - Many shoppers buy their Thanksgiving turkey frozen, but more and more people prefer a fresh one. If that includes you, be careful not to buy that bird too soon - one to two days before you plan on cooking it is the maximum, according to the USDA.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says you should keep the bird in your fridge until you're ready to cook it and offers other guidelines for safely roasting a turkey.

Here are some additional fresh turkey tips:

  • Don't buy any fresh pre-stuffed turkeys unless it has "USDA" or a state mark of inspection on the packaging, because if they're not handled correctly, any harmful bacteria in the stuffing can grow really fast.
  • Keep the turkey in the fridge until you're ready to prepare it to go in the oven, and put it on a pan or tray to catch any juices that might leak.
  • Always wash hands, utensils, the sink and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and its juices.

They also say to allow one pound of turkey per person.

For more information about food safety and handling meat and poultry, the USDA has a hotline number to call: 1-888-MPHotline. Information is available in English and Spanish.

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