Pop-up turkey thermometers not always accurate

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Looking to prepare the perfect bird this Thanksgiving? You might be thinking about relying on one of those pop-up timers to gauge when your turkey is ready.

But experts at Consumer Reports say you've got to be careful. They tested pop-up timers to see how accurate they really are.

"Turkey really needs to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be safe. Under-cooked turkey could make you and your Thanksgiving guests really sick," said Patricia Calvo with Consumer Reports.

So, can you really trust those little pop-up timers?

Testers stuffed turkey after turkey with pop-up timers ... some that came with the meat, others that were purchased separately. They also used calibrated thermometers.

The birds were then put in the oven and roasted until the timers popped up. Most didn't -- until the temperatures rose above 165 degrees.

"When your turkey cooks too long and gets above 165 degrees, you're going to need an awful lot of gravy because that turkey's going to be really dry," Calvo said.

But worse than that, a few times the timers popped well before the meat reached a safe cooking temperature. In those instances, all the bacteria may not have been killed.

"The best way to ensure that your meat is cooked to a safe temperature but still stays juicy is to use a conventional meat thermometer," said Calvo.

Consumer Reports says one good choice is the Thermoworks Pocket Digital. It's a no-frills, instant thermometer that's both easy to ready and very accurate, for $20.

Consumer Reports also recommends taking multiple temperature readings at various points in the meat to ensure your turkey is thoroughly cooked.
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