UMaine Extension offers food safety tips, recipes for Thanksgiving

ORONO — University of Maine Cooperative Extension has numerous resources to help prepare a safe and healthy Thanksgiving meal.

If turkey is on the menu, UMaine Extension professor and registered dietitian Kathy Savoie suggests planning for 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. This will provide enough for the meal and leftovers for turkey sandwiches or a favorite turkey recipe. Plan on half that amount if other poultry, beef, or pork will be served.

How to safely thaw the turkey is a common question, says Savoie. The length of time it will take to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator depends on its size. Plan on 24 hours per five pounds of frozen turkey.

Turkey should be cooked to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Farenheit to kill harmful bacteria. The temperature should be measured in the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or colder, within two hours of being cooked. Leftovers should be frozen or used within four days; gravy should be used within two days.

Extension also has simple healthy recipes that use local Maine produce in main dishes, and “Mainely Dish” recipe videos demonstrate a variety of vegetarian recipes or ones that can easily substitute other protein to replace meat. Extension publications for a healthy holiday, including “Helpful Hints for Handling Turkeys for Thanksgiving” and “General Food Safety Tips for Preparing Food” also are featured.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is available 8 a.m.– to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or chat live at

For more information contact 207-591-3188 or

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