Don’t put that turkey in the tub, and other Thanksgiving tips

Jason Bolton, a food safety specialist at the UMaine Cooperative Extension, is manning a statewide hotline in the run up to Thanksgiving. Mainers can call with questions about how to prepare the big meal safely, so even if your relatives get sick of each other, they at least won’t get sick from the turkey you undercooked.

I asked Jason if he could recall any strange or surprising questions from folks planning their Turkey Day festivities.

“Most questions include concerns regarding thawing, brining and when to purchase a fresh turkey,” he wrote in an email. And just so everyone’s clear, “The bathtub is not a recommended venue for thawing your turkey,” he added.

But what if your turkey just wants to light a few candles and relax for a good soak?

I had to ask though, why is it unsafe exactly? Bacteria on the bird can contaminate your tub, putting you at risk of infection the next time you hop in for a bath or shower. Ick.

Consumer queries to the UMaine hotline typically range from how to thaw a frozen turkey in a rush (in the refrigerator, in cold water and the microwave, but none of those methods is speedy) to how to tell when a turkey is fully cooked (use a food thermometer to be sure the bird reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.)

The hotline is open now, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 1.800.287.0274, or try your nearest county UMaine Extension office. Consumers can expect to receive a return call within a few hours.

Jason will be volunteering his time to answer questions on Thanksgiving day through email ( Emails should include your name, question and phone number. Jason says he’ll try to respond as soon as possible.

Also check out a UMaine Extension publication called “Helpful Hints on Handling Turkeys for Thanksgiving,” which includes tips for buying, thawing, stuffing, cooking and serving the bird.
  • In other higher education news today, the University of New England is going tobacco free. As of  July 1, 2014, UNE will prohibit on both of its campuses in Biddeford in Portland the use of “any tobacco products or non-FDA-approved nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes, in all buildings, administrative facilities, residence halls and on-campus grounds, including athletic fields and cars parked on campus.” The move had the support of student government, UNE said in a news release, and the announcement coincides with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout tomorrow. In Maine, at least seven college and university campuses have gone tobacco-free, including USM.


Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.