Careful management of temperatures is an important way to control bacteria. You should always use a food thermometer to check temperatures.
  • Turkey must be kept frozen (0ºF or lower) or refrigerated (35º to 40ºF) until used. Keep raw as well as cooked turkey products out of the 40º to 140ºF bacterial growth danger zone.
  • Never let raw or cooked turkey stand at room temperature or in a warm oven at less than 200ºF or in a holding device at less than 140ºF.
  • Cook raw turkey to an internal temperature of 165ºF to 170ºF in the deepest part of the breast, or 165ºF to 180ºF in the thigh of a whole bird. Insert the food thermometer into the deepest part of the muscle, being sure not to touch the bones.
  • Turkey products that are purchased fully cooked and are served hot, such as boneless roasts and rolls, should be reheated to an internal temperature of 140ºF.
  • Turkey that is cooked and chilled in your operation must be reheated to an internal temperature of 165ºF before serving or kept cold at 35º to 40ºF if it is to be served cold.
  • Cook turkey progressively, in batches, so it can be served as soon as possible.
  • Slice and hold only the amount that will be served within a 20-to 30-minute period.
Temperatures for Safety and Quality
The following chart shows Recommended End-Point Internal Temperatures from the National Turkey Federation and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code. The FDA recommendations are for safety-temperatures at a sufficient level to kill bacteria that may be present. Our own recommended temperatures are somewhat higher in many cases. We have chosen these temperatures because we believe they will enable you to achieve optimum quality. In addition, turkey will be easier to carve or slice when heated/cooked to these temperatures.
Recommended End-Point Internal Temperatures
 National Turkey FederationFDA Food Code
Whole Body Turkey
(Thermometer in Thigh)
Breast, Wings170ºF165ºF
Roasts, Raw170ºF165ºF
Cutlets, Slices, Tenderloins165ºF165ºF
Ground Turkey165ºF165ºF
Reheating Turkey Cooked by Supplier
(Ham, Roasts, Rolls) 1
Reheating Turkey Cooked by Foodservice
Operation 2
1-Turkey that is purchased in the fully cooked state; this temperature is for the reheated turkey. 2-Uncooked turkey that is cooked and cooled in the foodservice operation; this temperature is for the reheated turkey.

See the Preparation chapter for more details on recommended cooking procedures for achieving the ideal end-point temperature. Also check your local and state regulations for more information. For example, some states have specific requirements for serving temperatures.

In addition to reaching the recommended internal temperature, there is a second check for doneness. Juices should be clear and no longer pink. The absence of a pink color signals a change in the turkey's chemistry; this change occurs at a temperature high enough to kill any bacteria that may be present.


Food-Borne Illness
Sanitation & Storage
Maintaining Approved Temperatures

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