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Time to start preparing the bird

Published: Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Thanksgiving is still several days away, but it might already be time to take your turkey out of the freezer.

Depending on the size of the bird, it can take up to 6 days to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator, and the Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding people why it’s important that the meat is completely defrosted before cooking.

If not, the turkey will not cook to the 165-degree temperature needed to kill disease-causing bacteria.

A 20- to 24-pound turkey can take 5 or 6 days to thaw in the refrigerator. Even in cold water, it takes 10-12 hours.

Other tips for avoiding foodborne illness include washing hands, cutting boards and countertops and keeping raw meat separate from food that’s ready to eat.

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