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Local company talks turkey for over 20 years
Foster Farms, located in Livingston, has been operating their Turkey Helpline for more than 20 years. - photo by Photo Contributed
5 Easy Steps to a Perfectly Roasted Turkey
1. Thaw the turkey and remove neck and giblets from the body cavities.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F for conventional or 300 degrees F for convection ovens.
3. Place turkey breast-side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. If cooking stuffing inside the turkey, fill the body cavity with stuffing just before roasting.
4. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone.
5. Roast the turkey, uncovered, until the meat thermometer registers at least 165 degrees F (170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh). Use the roasting timetable to estimate approximate cooking time. If stuffed, make sure the temperature of the stuffing has reached 165 degrees F before removing the turkey from the oven.
— Courtesy of the National Turkey Federation
When Americans think Thanksgiving, they think turkey. This proud bird has been the pièce de résistance at feasts across the country since the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday. Turkeys have also been a part of the Turlock culture from nearby Foster Farms to the former Butterball processing plant to the “Turkey Tech” nickname of CSU Stanislaus. Turlockers know a thing or two about turkey, but sometimes even they need some assistance in the kitchen.
Foster Farms, located in Livingston, has been operating their Turkey Helpline for more than 20 years. The company fields calls around the clock about anything from defrosting the bird to what to do with leftovers. Ira Brill, director of marketing services for Foster Farms, said that the most commonly fielded question was probably “how long do I cook a turkey?”
Brill said that Foster Farms employees mostly live and work in the Central Valley, an area that he considers hard-hit by economic problems. However, Brill said that Foster Farms fresh turkey sales have not taken much of a hit this year.
“I think that everybody tries to find the means to have a family Thanksgiving,” Brill said.
The Foster Farms Turkey Helpline will be open 24/7 from now until Nov. 30, including Thanksgiving day. The hotline can be reached at (800) 255-7227. Online resources are available at Below are some tips from Teresa Lenz, Foster Farms’ consumer affairs manager who has been working with the Turkey Helpline for 15 years.
• Purchase enough turkey for everyone: Estimate 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person.
• Thoroughly thaw your turkey: There are two methods of defrosting a turkey, in the fridge or in a cold water bath. Whichever method you choose, make sure you allow for enough time for the turkey to thaw completely. Turkeys thawed in the fridge take more time than those thawed in ice water. If you choose a cold water bath, make sure to change the water every 30 minutes. For a 16-20 pound turkey, defrost 3 to 4 days in the fridge, or 9 to 11 hours in cold water. For a full table of weights and defrost times, see
• Check for giblets: Avoid surprises. Make sure to check the inside cavity for giblets and/or any plastic casing.
• Take the temperature: Your grandmother may insist on her own method of checking turkey, but the most reliable method to prevent undercooking is by using a meat thermometer. The thermometer should read 180-185°F in the thickest part of thigh (not touching bone) for whole turkey, or 170-175°F in the thickest part of the breast for turkey breast.

The United States Department of Agriculture also has their own Meat and Poultry Hotline. They can help with questions regarding safe food storage, handling, and preparation in English or Spanish. The number is 1-888-674-6854 and the hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. The USDA Web-site has a few tips on food safety this Thanksgiving.
• Clean: Always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash cutting boards, utensils, preparation surfaces and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and its juices with soap and hot water.
• Separate: Use different cutting boards for raw meat or poultry and other foods that will not be cooked such as vegetables. Be sure to keep the raw turkey separate from the other side dishes.
• Cook: Use a food thermometer. Every part of the turkey and the center of the stuffing should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
• Chill: Keep the fridge at 40 °F or below to keep bacteria from growing. Perishable foods should not be left sitting out at room temperature longer than two hours. Discard food which has been left at room temperature longer than two hours.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.