How to safely prepare your Thanksgiving meal

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Thanksgiving for many people could be considered the most important meal of the year, and those preparing and cooking it don't want any of their guests to walk away feeling sick. 

Food experts want to remind people there are precautions to take when getting ready for Thanksgiving Day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, when it comes to preparing they turkey, the cook or chef should be aware of four safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing and cooking to an adequate temperature.

J & J's Butcher Shop in Murrells Inlet has been one place people have been stopping by to pick up their uncooked, all-natural farm-fresh bird.

So far, according to owner and butcher Jeff Gore, a few hundred turkeys have gone out. Gore said there are people even on a waiting list just in case someone cancels their turkey.

One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when cooking a bird, according to Gore, is to defrost it at room temperature on the counter. Gore advises people to thaw it in the fridge and then get it ready for the oven.

Once the bird is in the oven, the temperature should be set at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to checking if the turkey is ready, Gore said not to rely on the thermometer the bird is usually packaged with; instead, use a meat thermometer of your own.

"The only way to truly know is to put that thermometer in the thigh, which is the thickest area of the turkey," Gore said, adding that you should let to bird rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Food experts suggest once the meal is eaten, only leave the leftovers out for no more than two hours, then start to clean up.

Leftovers should be should be sealed in plastic bags or containers and kept in the fridge, and they should last anywhere from two to four days.

The fridge and freezer should be keep at specific temperatures to hold a food's freshness.

The fridge should be 40 degrees and the freezer at zero to 10 degrees.

Take this food safety quiz and test you food safety knowledge:

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