Avoiding Fires, Illness, and Other Turkey Troubles on Thanksgiving
At its core, Thanksgiving is all about gratefulness and kindness . . . but that doesn’t stop people from getting caught up in the mealtime madness! Holiday feasts are a massive part of modern Thanksgiving, and millions of Americans sit down for a joyful, hearty meal. And at the very center of most Thanksgiving feasts, proudly displayed amid the mashed potatoes, casseroles, and pumpkin pie? The turkey, of course!
The History of the Thanksgiving Turkey
Turkey likely wasn’t on the menu for the first Thanksgiving, which famously took place in 1621 when European settlers celebrated their first harvest at the Plymouth Colony. It’s unclear when turkeys became common on Thanksgiving tables, but one main theory suggests that the turkey trend was based in practically. Turkeys can feed a large group and unlike other farm animals, don’t provide milk, eggs, or other goods. This means that they’re not useful for much around the farm, but just right for the dinner table! By the time Thanksgiving was recognized as an official holiday in 1781, turkeys were already quickly becoming an American tradition.
Today, turkeys are nearly synonymous with Thanksgiving. 88% of Thanksgiving meals include turkey, and Americans consume billions of dollars of turkey every holiday season. Around Thanksgiving, turkeys grace our cards and decorations, and the president even participates in an annual “turkey pardon.”
But while turkeys are one of the most anticipated aspects of Thanksgiving, they can cause problems in the kitchen!
Fire Hazards in the Kitchen
The first turkey-related hazard is fires. With so many dishes to prepare and a flurry of arriving family members, many cooks find themselves easily distracted. If a turkey—or any other dish—is left unattended, it can overheat and catch fire, leading to kitchen drama and danger. To prevent a meal mishap, the turkey and other dishes should be carefully monitored while they cook.
To keep the kitchen safe, have a fire extinguisher and know how to deal with different types of fires. For example, you should know not to douse an oil fire with water. Ask people, especially children, to stay out of the kitchen while you cook, and stay focused on your tasks and timers.
Put Away the Leftovers!
The second issue is food poisoning. After a big meal, everyone wants to settle down for some football, but putting away food is incredibly important. If food is left out and uncovered, it can quickly pick up bacteria, including ones that can cause severe, unpleasant illness. To prevent foodborne illnesses, all leftovers should be promptly refrigerated, and food that has been sitting out for more than two hours should not be consumed.
For a successful Thanksgiving, be safe around the turkey and other dishes. Along with taking your own precautions, watch out for any recalled products—from contaminated meats to faulty ovens—that could cause troubles. And of course, remember to be thankful and enjoy that delicious turkey!
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