USDA Hotline Offers Turkey Day Help

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture set up a hotline for people with questions about how to cook — and in some cases, salvage — their turkeys Thursday. Diane Van, manager of the hotline, shares what were the most common questions she heard.


And if you're in need of more tips at this point in the day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to help.

Unidentified Woman: Thank you for calling USDA's meat and poultry hotline.

CHADWICK: It's got a hotline with experts to help you sort out complicated turkey troubles. Good luck getting through, though. We were on hold for 25 minutes to reach Diane Van, manager of the USDA meat and poultry hotline. Here's a little of what Diane is hearing. People who overestimated the time it takes to cook a turkey, they started at 1 a.m., and now hours before dinner, their goose is cooked - well, their turkey's cooked. Here's Diane.

Ms. DIANE VAN (Manager, USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline): You want cook the turkey by making sure it reaches a minimum temperature of 165 on a meat thermometer in the thigh, the stuffing if it was stuffed and in the wing and the breast. Then you can hold it in the oven at 200 degrees on the oven dial and making sure that the thermometer stays in the thigh and it reads above 140 degrees at all times.

CHADWICK: And how come people are so overwrought about their turkey?

Ms. VAN: I believe it's because we don't cook these large pieces of meat as often anymore.

CHADWICK: And sadly, the USDA has advice but cannot save every turkey.

Ms. VAN: I must say that there are times when we have to condemn turkeys, and we hate doing that.

CHADWICK: Diane Van of the USDA meat and poultry hotline.

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