News Release
 November 1, 2007
CONTACT: Tracy Pawelski -
Denny Hopkins -

Williamsville, NY - According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Chances are pretty good you will be among those with turkey as the signature dish on your holiday table. Tops Markets want to make sure that this year's holiday feast is both a healthy and safe one. As families busily prepare their turkey feast, Tops offers turkey tips to keep consumers aware of the dangers of food-borne illness that can be overlooked during this hectic time.

Selecting your bird How big of a turkey should you buy? Tops suggests about 1-1/4 pounds per person or 1-1/2 pounds per person if you plan to enjoy those favorite leftover turkey sandwiches the rest of the holiday weekend! If you choose to buy a frozen bird, you may do so at any time. Make sure you have adequate storage space in your freezer. If you choose to buy a fresh turkey, make sure to freeze it if you do not plan to cook the bird within 2 days of purchase. Store fresh turkey in its original wrapping and have a cold refrigerator (41 degrees Fahrenheit).

Defrosting the bird

Allow enough time to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator; never thaw at room temperature. Make sure to place the turkey on a tray or dish in your fridge, since it will lose some of its natural moisture while thawing - which for large turkeys can take a few days. For example, a 20-24 pound turkey may take 4-5 days to thaw. Do not thaw at room temperature because the surface gets too warm before the inside thaws. Be sure to always wash your hands as well as the utensil or surface used to thaw the turkey with soap and hot water to prevent cross-contamination with your other Thanksgiving foods. If you choose to buy a fresh turkey and freeze it, be sure to follow the safe defrosting tips above when you are ready to cook.

Preparing your turkey - To stuff or not to stuff?

Wash turkey thoroughly in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. If you want less fat, the turkey may be skinned before cooking. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not recommend stuffing a turkey.

Turkey should always be cooked until well done and no longer pink inside. The only true way to ensure safety is to use a meat thermometer inserted in the meatiest part of the turkey. When the turkey is done, all internal temperatures should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Turkey can be cooked, but never stuffed, from the frozen state. If your bird is not served immediately, either keep cooked turkey hot, above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or refrigerate it at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. When transporting cooked turkey to another dining site, place it in an insulated container or ice chest until ready to eat.

Got leftovers?

Remember the two-hour rule when serving your Thanksgiving dinner. Perishable foods need to be removed from the table and refrigerated promptly. Tops recommends a few safety tips to keep your leftovers fresh and ready for those turkey sandwiches:

Cut turkey into small pieces.

Use leftover turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days; gravy within 2 days. Or, you may freeze foods for later use. Cooked turkey, gravy and stuffing should be packaged separately and in smaller quantities. It may be frozen in foil or freezer bags or containers for up to 1 month.

Reheat foods thoroughly to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For additional holiday food safety tips, visit the Tops website at

TOPS Markets, LLC, one of the leading supermarket operations in the U.S., currently operates stores in New York and Pennsylvania under the names of TOPS Markets and Martin's Super Food Stores. Headquartered in Williamsville, NY, TOPS is a division of Giant Food Stores in Carlisle, PA. As a company, TOPS is proud to work with hundreds of local organizations in the communities it serves and has a long-standing commitment to eradicate hunger and improve the quality of life for children. For more information about TOPS Markets, visit


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