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Turkey with santa claus hat with a backend of a cozy christmas setup - representing how to prevent turkey food poisoning

How to Prevent Turkey Food Poisoning – 6 Holidays Friendly Tips

It’s that time of year again – turkey food poisoning… I meant  Thanksgiving or Christmas, of course.

And no, I’m not talking about the stomach ache that comes after stuffing yourself like an animal – food poisoning caused by eating turkey, or holidays left over for that matter, is a real thing and should not be discarded.

In fact, it’s one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the USA and Canada and it can happen to anyone at any time; been there, done that!

Whether you’re just heading off to holiday celebrations or you’re already sick with food poisoning, read on for all the information you need to prevent turkey or food poisoning this Christmas and beyond.

From understanding what turkey food poisoning is to knowing when to seek medical help, to getting started on your recovery process, this guide has you covered.

Merry turkey-poisoning-free Christmas!

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Preventing Turkey Food Poisoning

Depiction of a raw turkey in an X-ray

Turkeys are a popular holiday delicatessen, either in November for Thanksgiving or late December for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but they’re also one of the main causes of salmonella poisoning in the United States and Canada. That’s why it’s so important to know how to prevent turkey poisoning.

Here are a few tips to keep bacteria away from that juicy poultry meat:

1. Store Turkey Properly

Is it raw poultry meat?

If you’ve just bought it, make sure you keep that whole turkey in the freezer until three days before you cook it.

Is it cooked?

As soon as you are done with the meal, shred the rest of the cooked meat, let it cool down on the countertop then store it in an airtight container in the cold.

Poultry leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but make sure they are thoroughly cooked first before putting them away.

2. Thaw Turkey Safely

It’s important to make sure your turkey is completely thawed before cooking it. Frozen parts of the bird can lead to uneven cooking and, therefore, lead to bacteria bonanza!

The recommendation is to remove it from the freezer and put it in cold storage for 72 hours (3 days) before cooking.

3. Handle Turkey Correctly to Prevent the Spread of Germs

Digital thermometer that shows 165 F

When it comes to food safety, nothing is more important than avoiding the spread of germs. There are a few simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones from illness:

-Always wash your hands before and after handling raw turkey – no matter how much you plan on cooking it.

-Make sure the turkey is cooked thoroughly and out of the danger zone with an internal temperature of- CDC recommends (Centers for Disease Control) 175 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria that might be present. (check our calculator below)

This applies to Canada as well.

Always use a food thermometer.

-Once you are ready to prepare and season it in its raw form, you have to rinse and wash it thoroughly in cold water when removed from its package.

4. Cook Stuffing Thoroughly…Salmonella be-gone

Cooking a turkey perfectly is key to preventing foodborne illness, but you also need to cook the stuffing thoroughly as well as all the ingredients stuffed in it.

Remember that it will sit in a raw meat cavity and will be soaked with uncooked juice for a while before getting to the right temperature.


5. Turkey Cooking Time Calculator

a cartoon that represents a turkey that holds a calculator

Keep in mind that this is just a rough estimate, as cooking times can vary based on factors such as the size and shape of the turkey, the temperature of the oven, and the desired level of doneness, in this case, it must be well-done.

It is always a good idea to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the turkey is fully cooked and safe to eat.

The calculator is based on slow cooking at 325 degrees Fahrenheit which I think is the sweet spot for me the roast is amazing and the meat remains super juicy.

Input the weight (in Kilograms) of your turkey below

Cooking time:


6. Take Care of Leftovers

Leftovers can be a great way to save food or use up leftovers that you might not want to eat right away.

However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when preparing and storing your turkey parts for the long run.

-Don’t eat any leftovers that have been sitting out for more than 2 hours even if they’ve been refrigerated! This is because food poisoning caused by bacteria can develop quickly at room temperature.

-Store leftovers in an airtight container and eat them within 3-4 days. If you are warming up turkey stuffing, be sure to microwave it thoroughly and serve it hot.


How quickly does food poisoning start after eating bad turkey meat?

It can start anywhere from a few hours to several days after consuming contaminated food. The symptoms of food poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. Almost like flu-like symptoms.

The length of time it takes for symptoms to appear depends on the type of bacteria or other pathogens that caused the contamination, as well as the amount of the pathogen consumed.

What do I do if I have food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a serious illness that can quickly become worse if not treated properly. If you think you may have food poisoning, the best thing to do first is to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.

If you develop diarrhea (more than 3 loose bowel movements in 24 hours), vomiting (more than one liquid vomit within 12 hours), abdominal cramps (>30 minutes duration), fever over 39°C (‘101°F’), or fatigue/weakness that lasts for more than two days, consult a doctor immediately.

Check out our “Do I Have a Parasite Quiz“.

How long does food poisoning last?

The duration of food poisoning can vary significantly depending on the type of bacteria or other pathogens that caused the contamination, as well as the individual’s age, overall health, and other factors.

In general, most cases of food poisoning resolve within a few days and do not require medical treatment.

However, some cases can be more severe and may require hospitalization or other medical treatment.

How to test for poison in food at home?

It is not possible to test for poison in food at home with certainty. Some types of poison can be detected through laboratory testing, but these tests are typically not available to the general public and must be conducted by a professional laboratory.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been poisoned by food, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A healthcare professional can perform a physical examination and order laboratory tests to help determine the cause of the illness and provide appropriate treatment.

In some cases, the symptoms of food poisoning can be similar to those of other illnesses, such as the flu. If you experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or fever after eating, it is important to stay hydrated and seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days.


Turkey food poisoning is a common and potentially life-threatening illness caused by foodborne bacteria called salmonella.

By following the tips in this guide, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting sick. 

It happened to me before and I truly wish this would never happen again.

First and foremost, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food. If you do get food poisoning, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine to help speed up the recovery process.

Remember to contact your doctor if you experience any serious food poisoning symptoms.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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