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Beyond true holiday emergencies like kitchen fires, there are other, more minor issues that still have the potential to cause panic.

Like, how long should I cook my turkey? And how do I know it’s really done?

Don’t worry: You got this! Here are some handy food safety resources from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that can give you the info – and confidence – you need.

  • Meat and Poultry Hotline: Sometimes, you just want to talk to a real person. With this free hotline, solving your turkey emergency is only a phone call away. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). The line is staffed with food safety and nutrition experts on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Night owl? Don’t sweat it – callers can listen to pre-recorded food safety advice 24/7.) Since debuting in 1985, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered more than 2 million phone calls about safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry, and eggs.
  • Ask USDA: How long can I keep a cheese plate out before it needs refrigerated? How do I know if my leftovers are still safe to eat? Get quick answers online from Ask USDA, a well-organized database of the top-asked questions from the hotline. Bonus: Live chat is available during specified weekday hours.
  • Email: If email’s more your thing, fire off a question to
  • Let’s Talk Turkey: Check out the USDA’s “Let’s Talk Turkey” time and temperature guides for thawing, roasting, storing, and reheating your turkey.

This story was originally published in 2014. It was updated in 2019 with new information.