(CNN) – The first key to a safely cooked bird is proper thawing.
Bacteria can grow rapidly in raw turkey when its temperature is in “the danger zone”… between 40-and-140 degrees.
Never thaw a turkey out on the counter overnight. Use a microwave, a refrigerator, or a sink of cold water changed every thirty minutes.
While preparing the turkey, make sure to wash hands and surfaces often.
Keep raw turkey separate from other items so illness-causing bacteria doesn’t spread.
If you’re stuffing your bird, do so just before cooking and keep the oven at temperatures of at least 325 degrees.
Finally, the internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees — high enough to kill any bacteria. And make sure you’re checking the temperature in the correct spot.
Registered dietitian Mike Folino says, “You’re probably going to check right in between the leg and the cavity of the body and then also in the thickest part of the breast.”