EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — There won’t be any food safety confusion this Thanksgiving holiday, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) helps crack the code on a few Turkey Day myths.

According to the USDA, there are a few myths that need busting in order for family and friends to eat safely on Thanksgiving.

  • Myth number one: Refrigerating a whole cooked turkey is safe to do.

This myth is busted as USDA officials say a turkey should always be carved after it’s cooked. A whole cooked turkey will not cool off quickly enough, which puts the food at risk for bacterial growth.

Instead, carve the turkey into smaller pieces so it cools down faster in the refrigerator.

  • Myth number two: Thawing a turkey on the counter is safe.

Officials say this is false and a turkey should never thaw on a kitchen counter. Once a turkey sits at room temperature or 68 degrees, for over two hours, it enters the ‘The Danger Zone.’ When this occurs, bacteria grow to dangerous levels, causing anyone who eats it to become very ill.

The USDA recommends three safe ways to thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, submerged in cold water, or in a microwave oven.

  • Myth number three: ‘Pop-up timers’ are enough to know when the turkey is fully cooked.

This myth is now debunked as ‘Pop-up timers’ are disposable thermometers used to measure the inner temperature of the turkey.

The USDA says although they are a great tool to use, the temperature needs to reach 165 degrees in three specific places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.

Using a food thermometer in addition to a ‘pop-up timer’ to check the turkey’s internal temperature is the best way to go.

The USDA advises those cooking to always remember the four steps to food safety:

  • Clean: Wash your hands before touching any food.
  • Separate: Keep raw meats and poultry away from fruits and veggies.
  • Cook: Turkey is only safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Chill: Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of finishing your meal.

For more information on food safety call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety expert online from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Wherever or whatever you eat this holiday, Eyewitness News wishes you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.