Fry turkeys with caution

first_imgBy Brooke HatfieldUniversity of GeorgiaIn recent years, fried turkey has been gaining on traditional roasted turkey as the holiday dish of choice. But as fried turkey’s popularity rises, so do concerns about the safety of deep-fat turkey fryers. Safety concerns include the stability of the fryers, uninsulated pot handles and lids and the potential for oil spillovers and overheating. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., the leading organization in the United States for testing consumer products for safety and conformity to standards, issued an alert in June calling the fryers “extremely dangerous.” Frying turkeys is risky business Although many assume the dangers of fried foods lie in their fat content, Andress said there is no reason to think fried turkey is any less healthy than a regular roasted turkey. A common cause of turkey-fryer accidents is filling the pot too full of oil, causing the oil to spill over when the turkey is placed in the pot. At cooking temperatures, oil spillovers can result in severe burns. * Make sure you use the fryers on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping. * Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units don’t have thermostat controls. If you don’t watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire. * The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator, allowing about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. Follow safety guidelines If you must use a turkey fryer, the UL has issued these guidelines: The temperature of a whole turkey must reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the innermost part of the thigh, she said. The center of the stuffing must reach 165 degrees. If the stuffing hasn’t reached 165, keep cooking the turkey until it does. Consumer hotline numbers include: Because of these concerns, UL has elected to not certify any turkey fryers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating the fryers. The only way to tell if all the bacteria have been killed is to measure the temperature of the cooked turkey with a food thermometer in several places.center_img “The major risks with frying are safety issues and making sure all the harmful bacteria are killed,” Andress said. * Always use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and anything else that can burn. * Never let children or pets near the fryer while it’s in use. Even after use, never let children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours. * Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages. * Use well-insulated pot holders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter. * USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-800-535-4555 or 1-800-256-7072/TTY, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST year-round. An extended menu of recorded food safety messages can be heard 24 hours a day. “The people who (fry turkeys) say it produces a moister turkey, and it’s quicker,” said Elizabeth Andress, a University of Georgia Extension Service food safety specialist. * To avoid spillovers, don’t overfill the fryer. * Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember, use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If it grows, call 911 immediately for help. * Make sure the turkey is completely thawed, and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix, and water causes oil to spill over, which could cause a fire or explosion hazard. * Butterball Turkey Talk Line, 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372), 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. Full daily calendar of hours is available at www.butterball.com.last_img read more