The Department of Agriculture has set up a phone number people can call if they need ideas about how to cook their Thanksgiving turkey.
USDA has a webpage called "Let's Talk Turkey — A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey." That page offers lots of advice — for example, it says people should keep fresh turkeys in the refrigerator "until you're ready to cook it," and to put turkeys in a pan or tray when they go in the oven "to catch any juices that may leak."
It also estimates the time needed for cooking turkeys in various ways. But if things get out of control, or you need other ideas on how to cook a turkey, people can call USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-674-6854.
The only catch is that it's a government hotline, so only active from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. eastern standard time. However, USDA said it's web-based automated response system, called "Ask Karen," is available 24 hours a day at www.fsis.usda.gov.
This week, USDA launched a series of online articles that will give people helpful tips for how to safely buy and cook a turkey for Thanksgiving.
"Unsafe handling and undercooking of turkeys can lead to serious foodborne illness, but the USDA is here to offer a few tips so you have a delicious, safe holiday feast," USDA said. "Over the next two weeks, we will share several food safety steps that you should follow."
USDA seems to be starting the process slowly — its first article mostly tells readers what the difference is between a fresh and frozen turkey. A fresh turkey, it said, has never been chilled below 26 degrees Fahrenheit, while a frozen turkey has been cooled to zero degrees.
"[K]eep your raw bird separate from any other items in your shopping cart to prevent cross-contamination," it advises.
The article also describes the difference between natural, kosher, free range and organic turkeys.