The United States Department of Agriculture might not be the first place you think of when you’re unsure whether it’s okay to stuff the turkey the night before, but they have a hotline built to answer exactly these sorts of questions. Add 1-888-MPHotline to your contacts to be the hero everybody needs for Thanksgiving prep—and, yes, they will be taking calls on the big day.
The hotline is properly known as the Meat and Poultry Hotline, and you can call it year-round for any food-safety questions related to meat, poultry, or eggs. The line is staffed by humans from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. On Thanksgiving day this year, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.
And if you’re phone-phobic, they can give you answers by email, too. Send your questions to MPHotline@usda.gov. You can also use the live chat at Ask USDA.
They have also pre-answered many of your common Thanksgiving questions, which you can access at the website above or as automated messages on the hotline, even after hours. They include things like:
How long can I keep a thawed turkey in the fridge? (One to two additional days, after it’s gone through the thawing process at about one day per five pounds.)
Can I stuff the turkey the night before? (No, you really shouldn’t.)
What is the right temperature for cooking the turkey? (325 is the lowest safe oven temperature. Internal temperature is more complicated and depends on preference, but the standard is 165.)
How long is leftover turkey good in the fridge? (3-4 days, as long as you refrigerated it promptly.)
We also have answers to more of your food safety questions here. And while you’re at it, you can read up on why that popper-upper timer in your turkey is garbage and you should throw it away. (Your turkey won’t be unsafe, just overcooked.) Do you feel ready now? Go forth and roast.