SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – As many are preparing to chef things up for the holidays, there are a few Turkey Day myths that you may not be aware of.

We’re here to help ease your confusion on the proper food safety that many are guilty of doing.

1.) Refrigerating a whole-cooked turkey is safe

According to the USDA, home cooks should always carve their turkey after cooking. A whole cooked turkey will not cool quickly enough, which could cause bacterial growth.

Carving the turkey into smaller pieces will allow the meat to cool faster, decreasing your chances of getting sick.

2.) Thawing a turkey on the counter is safe

The USDA stresses that NO ONE should ever thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter.

Once a turkey has sat at room temperature beyond two hours, it can cause bacteria to grow rapidly.

To properly that a turkey, you should place the turkey in a refrigerator.

For every four to five pounds of turkey, cooks should allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time.

Turkeys are also safe to thaw in a microwave and cold water.

When using the cold-water method, the USDA says that cooks should allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey and keep it in the original wrapping.

Change the water every 30 minutes and cook immediately after thawing.

3.) Pop-up timers tell me when the turkey is fully cooked

Although pop-up timers appear to be handy, they can lead to false readings.

When using a pop-up timer, check the following three locations on the turkey, as they should all be 165 F.

  • The thickest part of the breast
  • The innermost part of the thigh
  • The innermost part of the wing

To be safe, use a food thermometer in addition to a pop-up timer to check the turkey’s internal temperature.

The USDA offers the following four steps to remember during the holidays:

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

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

The Meat and Poultry Hotline is open Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.