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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release November 24, 1998
                         VICE PRESIDENT GORE LAUDS

       Clearer Language Means Safer Thanksgiving Meals for Americans

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore gave an Agriculture Department (USDA) employee his monthly "Plain Language" award today for rewriting a consumer information article on how to safely prepare a turkey.

"With Americans nationwide preparing to consume 45 million turkeys this Thanksgiving, today's recognition of clear, simple food safety instruction is particularly important," the Vice President said.

Just in time for the holidays, Bessie Berry, Director of the Meat and Poultry Hotline, put into plain language a consumer information article on USDA's website on how to safely cook and stuff a turkey.

The information, also available to USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline callers, will help thousands of Americans this season avoid bacterial illness due to undercooking. The rewritten article makes clearer the steps and temperatures needed to prepare a stuffed turkey.

Today's "No Gobbledygook Award" builds on President Clinton's June 1st Executive Memorandum that directed all executive departments and agencies to: (1) write any new document that tells the public how to get a benefit or comply with a requirement in plain language by October 1, 1998; (2) write all new government regulations in plain language by January 1, 1999; and (3) revise all existing letters and notices into plain language by 2002.

With regard to today's announcement, the following is an excerpt of the article both before and after it was re-written:


TURKEY BASICS: STUFFING Thermometer Essential When Stuffing a Turkey If stuffing a turkey, use a meat thermometer. Cooking a home-stuffed turkey can be somewhat riskier than cooking one not stuffed. Bacteria can survive in stuffing which has not reached the safe temperature of 165 F, possibly resulting in a foodborne illness. Even if the turkey itself has reached the proper internal temperature of 180 F in the innermost part of the thigh, the stuffing may not have reached a temperature in all parts of the stuffing sufficient to destroy foodborne bacteria. If stuffing does not reach 165 F when the turkey itself is done to 180 F, further cooking will be required. During the added cooking necessary to bring the stuffing up to a safe temperature, the meat may become overcooked.


TURKEY BASICS: STUFFING Make sure you cook both your turkey and your stuffing completely. If you don't, bacteria that can make you sick may still be alive. Here are the most important things to remember about stuffing:

        Cook the stuffing separately -- it's MUCH safer!
        If you absolutely have to cook the stuffing in the turkey, 
        use a thermometer to make sure the stuffing reaches a 
        temperature of 165 F and the turkey reaches a temperature 
        of 180 F in the innermost part of the thigh.  Measure the 
        temperature of both the turkey and stuffing!  Don't just 
        trust a pop-up indicator!