The holidays are here and many of us will be cooking huge dinners and hosting guests. A part of these dinners of course will most likely be a holiday favorite, turkey. Along with the idea of a nice juicy turkey is its perfect partner in crime, stuffing. Many people elect to stuff the turkey with stuffing, and cook them together, however many sources have been pointing towards this practice as a dangerous one.
The USDA stated clearly that cooking a turkey that is not stuffed is riskier than cooking one that is. This is largely due to standards the USDA has set forward that give a safe cooking temperature of 165 degrees. The addition of stuffing is said to not reach this temperature despite the outside of the turkey being safe, allowing bacteria to live inside.
Martin Bucknavage, a food safety expert here at Penn State has supported these findings. He reports that you would have to cook the turkey 20 degrees higher in order to obtain the same safety results. This would be fine, but at this point the outside of the turkey would then be overcooked, creating another issue. Even so, what kind of risk are we taking by just doing it the old fashioned way?
I’m sure that my family, like many others, will not be turned off by these findings and will still continue to stuff the turkey. So what risk are we truly at even with the lack of proper cooking methods? The CDC estimated just over a million cases of domestically acquired salmonella each year. Of that million, only about 19,000 end up hospitalized. Despite this huge difference, it still hospitalized and killed the most people of any domestically acquired food born illness.
Now the next time you decide to stuff the turkey, or eat the stuffing from the turkey, you might take a second thought. However, how likely are you truly to be that one in a million? I think that’s a risk I’m willing to take.