Turkey Leftovers and Food Safety

shutterstock_334602812Storing Your Leftovers

  • Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days.
  • If freezing leftovers, use within 2 to 6 months for best quality.

Reheating Your Turkey

Cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated.

In the Oven

  • Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
  • Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover.

In the Microwave Oven

  • Cover your food and rotate it for even heating. Allow standing time.
  • Check the internal temperature of your food with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 °F.
  • Consult your microwave oven owner’s manual for recommended times and power levels.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Let’s Talk Turkey” For more information, please visit www.cpsp.gov.

Let’s Talk Turkey—Thawing and Roasting

thanksgiving_shutterstock_89998036

Thawing Your Turkey

There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

 

In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

In the Microwave Oven

  • Check your owner’s manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound and power level to use for thawing.
  • Remove all outside wrapping.
  • Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.

REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.

Roasting Your Turkey

  • Set your oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
  • Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
  • For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
  • If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time; however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
  • A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.
  • If your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety.
  • For quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily.
  • Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavities.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting
(325 °F oven temperature)

Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.

Unstuffed
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours

 

Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.

Optional Cooking Hints

  • Tuck wing tips under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking. This is referred to as “akimbo.”
  • Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
  • If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent overbrowning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.
  • If using an oven-proof food thermometer, place it in the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle. It will allow you to check the internal temperature of the turkey while it is cooking. For turkey breasts, place thermometer in the thickest part. For whole turkeys, place in the thickest part of the inner thigh. Once the thigh has reached 165 °F, check the wing and the thickest part of the breast to ensure the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product.
  • If using an oven cooking bag, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the package.

REMEMBER! Always wash hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and its juices with soap and water.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Let’s Talk Turkey” For more information, please visit www.cpsp.gov.

Sales Tax and Small Businesses – Part Two

Questions about sales tax are among the most frequent inquiries from small business owners across the country.  In part one of our “Sales Tax and Small Businesses” post earlier this week, we defined sales tax, explored state-specific permit and sales tax requirements, and reviewed common situations in which sales tax does not apply.  In today’s post, we’ll pick up where we left off with four additional lessons when it comes to small businesses and sales tax.

Lesson 5:  When your business sells online

If your business sells goods and services online, you will likely still pay sales tax, but not necessarily on all transactions. E-Commerce tax laws can be confusing, but typically, you charge sales tax for customers located in states where your business has a presence.  For example, if you only operate out of Virginia but sell your product to customers across the country, you would only collect and pay sales tax for customers located in Virginia.  However, if you have your headquarters in Virginia, a warehouse in Ohio, and a distribution center in Arizona, then you would pay sales tax on any transactions that originate from those three states.  Check out this article for more helpful tips on when to collect sales tax for online transactions.

receipt-fb-shutterstock_152891924

Lesson 6:  Time to pay your sales taxes

Depending on your state’s requirements, your business probably has an option to pay monthly or quarterly.  Monthly payments may help you track your expenses more regularly and avoid a bigger tax bill to pay three times a year.  Some states and localities may require businesses with larger tax liability to make electronic payment, while others do not have the infrastructure in place to support electronic payment.  Regardless of whichschedule and process you follow, make sure you know your state’s sales tax deadline to avoid costly fines.

In addition to paying the state sales taxes your business owes, you will likely need to file periodic sales tax reports to your state department of revenue.  Most states now allow businesses to pay and report sales tax online – a great, time-saving feature – and some states also give a discount for prepayment of sales taxes.  If you can swing it, it will save you money in the long-run to pay in advance.

Lesson 7:  Relying on accounting software may not be enough

Your business may use accounting software, but it’s critical to also keep track of your accounting personally.  An incorrect entry could mean not collecting enough tax from customers, yet still having to pay state taxes.  While technology can be an incredibly helpful tool, make sure you also keep track of your numbers to give yourself a backup method for avoiding mistakes when technology is being less than cooperative.  Thisplanning guideDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content outlines more helpful tips to keep your business on top of its numbers.

Lesson 8:  Document in case of an audit

The word “audit” can strike terror into the heart of a small business owner, but if you have a reliable process for keeping track of sales taxes, it will serve you well in case of an audit.  The current economic client has increased the chances of small businesses being audited as many states work to balance their budgets and locate unpaid taxes through audits.  If your business takes the time now to review its process for keeping sales records, it could go a long way in minimizing your costs and time wasted in the event of an audit.

That wraps up our list of top lessons when it comes to small businesses and sales tax.  Sound overwhelming?  It can be – there are thousands of sales tax jurisdictions in the United States, which makes this topic a challenging one.  Just remember that there are also dozens of resources available to help you with this process from start to finish.

Did you learn something new through part one or part two of this series?  Do you have a great lesson to add to the list?  Share your small business sales tax takeaways in the comments below.


The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Sales Tax and Small Businesses – Part Two.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Let’s Talk Turkey—Fresh or Frozen

turkey-fb-shutterstock_334603307Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh Turkeys

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.

Frozen Turkeys

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it.
  • Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
  • See “Thawing Your Turkey” for thawing instructions.

Frozen Pre-Stuffed Turkeys

USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions.

Image of seal of inspection for poultryDO NOT THAW before cooking. Cook from the frozen state. Follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.

Allow 1¼ pounds of turkey per person.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Let’s Talk Turkey” For more information, please visit www.cpsp.gov.

Sales Tax and Small Businesses – Part One

calc-business-fb-shutterstock_184708295

“As a small business owner, do I need to pay sales taxes?”

Questions about sales tax are among the most frequent inquiries from small business owners across the country.  Collecting sales tax can be one of the most confusing aspects of business transactions, both online and off, and there’s no time like the present for a refresher course on small businesses and sales tax.

Lesson 1:  Sales tax defined

Sales tax is defined as a retail point-of-purchase tax imposed by state and local governments.  It’s paid for by the purchaser for goods and services, and as a small business owner, you are required by law to assess sales tax, collect it, and pass it on to the appropriate authorities within a prescribed time.  That said, sales tax rates and laws vary from state to state, which can lead to confusion, especially if you sell your product or service to customers in multiple states – more on that below.

Lesson 2:  Sales tax permits

In order to collect sales tax, your state may require you to have a sales tax permit.  This article can help you determine your state’s tax obligations and find out if you need a sales tax permit in your state.

In most cases, you’ll need to visit the website of your state’s Department of Revenue and register for a sales tax permit.  To do so, you’ll need your Federal employer ID number and all of your pertinent business information.  Many states allow online registration, so be sure you have all relevant information available before you begin the process.

Once you receive your sales tax permit, your business can begin to collect sales tax from customers.  A quick tip – remember that you must always show the cost of the tax amount separately so the customer is clear on the breakdown of costs.  Since most sales receipts are programmed to show the amounts, this typically isn’t a problem.  Even many online “shopping cart” pages are programmed to show tax calculations.  Just make sure that you’ve set up both your receipts and your websites to reflect the applicable sales tax amount for each transaction.

money-shutterstock_215289142

Lesson 3:  Determining your sales tax requirements

Generally, most states require businesses to pay the sales taxes they collect quarterly or monthly.  A common question that frequently pops up is, “do all small business owners need to pay sales taxes?”  The short answer is yes – a majority of businesses that are sales-oriented in nature are required to pay taxes to the home state or other states in which they conduct business.  A small handful of states do not require taxes from businesses (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon – although many localities in Alaska have their own sales taxes), but for the rest of the country, sales taxes should definitely be on your radar.  Check out this article for helpful tips on determining your state’s specific obligations.

Lesson 4:  Understanding the parts of your business that are tax-exempt

While most of your transactions will require the payment of sales tax, there are a few situations in which sales tax does not apply.  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Nonprofit businesses – sales made to nonprofits are exempt from sales tax
  • Computers and computer accessories may be tax exempt depending on your state laws – speak with your tax accountant to see if your state qualifies for exemptions here
  • Casual sales (like a garage sale or a one-time appearance at a flea market) may not require you to pay sales tax.  However, use your best judgment – if you’re holding said sale twice a week, you’re probably operating like a business that needs to pay sales tax
  • Resold items – resellers and retailers typically don’t have to pay sales tax on wholesale purchases since it’s assumed that the end consumer will pay sales tax on those items at the point of purchase
  • If your business is considered a manufacturer (i.e. you process a product and resell it in a different form) or you produce raw materials (you produce and sell goods that will be the raw material for other goods), these items are typically considered sales tax exempt in most states
  • There are also some business services that may be tax-exempt.  As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to check with your tax accountant to ensure you are taking appropriate steps based on your state’s tax code

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Sales Tax and Small Businesses – Part One.” For more information, please visit www.sba.gov.

Using Turkey Fryers Safely

Each year, Americans prepare a whopping 45 million turkeys for the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. However, for those who decide to center their meal around a fried turkey, the potential hazards of cooking that dinner in the turkey fryer can be far worse than putting on a few extra pounds.

The above is the video, “Danger of Turkey Fryers.” For more information, pase visit www.ul.com.

For safest operation, CPSC staff recommends that consumers follow these guidelines as they prepare to use a turkey fryer:

  • Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
  • Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
  • Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
  • Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:
    • Place turkey in pot
    • Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
    • Remove and dry turkey
    • Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level.
The above is an excerpt from the pamphlet, “CPSC Issues Safety Tips for Turkey Fryers.” For more information, please visit www.cpsp.gov.

Bathrooms and Electrical Safety

electrical-safety-shutterstock_202000801Have you checked all these important areas off your electrical safety checklist?

□ Are all appliances unplugged when not in use? NO: Unplug all small appliances when not in use. Even when turned off, plugged-in electrical appliances may cause a
shock hazard if they fall into water.
Sometimes a worn switch may turn on with no one touching it.
□ Are all appliances in good
condition?
That is, are they working the same with no signs of damaged wiring or parts? (smoke, sparks,
and noises, etc.)
NO: Discard or have repaired. Irregular operation is a sign
of damage to electrical parts. Damaged appliances can become a shock or fire hazard.
□ Are portable heaters ever used in the bathroom? YES: Consider installing a fixed heating fan. Avoid using portable heaters in the bathroom. If you use
a portable heater, either plug it into a GFCI outlet or use a heater with a GFCI plug.
Portable heaters can be an electrocution hazard when used in bathrooms. The many grounded surfaces and water contribute to this hazard. A GFCI can help to reduce the risk of serious injury or electrocution.
□ Are properly grounded 3-prong  adapters used to attach power  cords with 3-prong plugs to older  2-prong outlets? NO: Always connect the  grounding wire or metal tab  on the adaptor to the center  screw on the outlet cover. The grounding feature provided by a 3-prong  adapter for a 2-prong outlet is a safety feature  designed to lessen the risk of fire or shock in  case of an appliance fault. NEVER defeat the  adapter’s grounding feature or break the ground pin from a 3-prong plug.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “HOME ELECTRICAL Safety Checklist” For more information, please visit http://www.cpsc.gov/.

Watch: Developing Mobile Apps

If you’re in the business of developing mobile apps, it’s important to give the straight story about what your app can do and be transparent about your privacy practices. Consider these tips if you’re developing an app.

Driving Abroad

If you choose to drive abroad, this is one time you want to make sure you stay “on the beaten path.” It is estimated that more than 200 U.S. citizens die each year because of road accidents abroad. We’re not trying to scare you (well, maybe we are), but it is important to be aware of the rules of the road in the country you’re visiting.

First thing’s first. If you choose to drive while abroad, make sure you obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you go. Many countries don’t recognize U.S. driver’s licenses, but IDPs are honored in more than 150 countries outside the U.S. An IDP is not intended to replace a valid U.S. State license and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. By the way, IDPs are not valid in your home country and you must be 18 to get one.

Before departure, you can obtain an IDP at a local office of one of the two automobile associations authorized by the U.S. Department of State: the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. Here’s how to contact these organizations:

AAA (American Automobile Association)

National Automobile Club

1-800-622-2136 or 1-800-294-7000

Once you have your International Driving Permit, you’re going to need insurance. Car rental companies worldwide usually provide auto insurance, but in some countries, the required coverage is minimal. When renting a car overseas, it is highly recommended that you consider purchasing insurance coverage that is at least equivalent to that which you carry at home.

Generally, your U.S. auto insurance does not cover you abroad. However, your policy may apply when you drive to countries neighboring the United States. Check with your insurer to see if your policy covers you in Canada, Mexico, or countries south of Mexico. Even if your policy is valid in one of these countries, it may not meet that country’s minimum requirements.

Here are some quick tips to make your driving experience abroad, an easy ride:

  • Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you go abroad.
  • Carry both your IDP, and your State driver’s license, with you at all times, and know the country’s rules before you get behind the wheel. Information may be available from the foreign embassy in the United States, foreign government tourism offices, or from a car rental company in the foreign country.
  • Always “buckle up.” Some countries have penalties for people who violate this law.
  • Many countries require you to honk your horn before going around a sharp corner or to flash your lights before passing.
  • Before you start your journey, find out who has the right of way in a traffic circle.
  • If you rent a car, make sure you have liability insurance. If you do not, this could lead to financial disaster.
  • If the drivers in the country you are visiting drive on the opposite side of the road than in the U.S., it may be prudent to practice driving in a less populated area before attempting to drive in heavy traffic.
  • Always know the route you will be traveling. Have a copy of a good road map, and chart your course before beginning.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers or strangers, and when entering existing your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Doing so can have severe criminal penalties in other countries.

 

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Driving Abroad.” For more information, please visit /travel.state.gov.

 

Tips to Boost Your Holiday Sales

holiday-background-fb-shutterstock_160247141Focus on promotions that add value

Don’t cannibalize your margins by developing promotions that focus on price. Instead, look for ways to deliver value. Free gift wrapping with a minimum purchase is one example. An invite to exclusive events or previews with every $50 purchase is another.

Team up with other businesses

Show your holiday spirit by teaming with other businesses for a sidewalk event or parade of stores. These events don’t actually require that much planning. Think of ways to entice shoppers to visit each participating store or restaurant. Hand out punch cards and encourage customers to get them stamped at each business for the chance to win a prize.

Hire a Santa and give kids the chance for a photo opp. You don’t even need to hire a photographer – let folks take their own!

shoppingbagPromote trending products

Who doesn’t want the latest and greatest? But what’s popular in your industry? Google Trends and Twitter Trends are a useful way of identifying the most talked about trends and focusing your inventory and marketing where it will get noticed. Even if you don’t sell trending products, look for ways to align social media messaging in particular around hot topics/news/events that are making waves this holiday season.

Let your brand’s personality show

Weave your small business uniqueness and appeal into your holiday promotions, product/service lines, holiday décor and customer service. For example, show your business’ fun side and host a “Bad Holiday Sweater” party. Dress staff in their worst sweaters. Encourage customers to pay a visit and place a vote for the winning sweater! Share images on social media and wait for the event to go viral.

Or focus on your philanthropic gestures to get foot traffic through the door or online – donate a percentage of sales to a local charity for one-day only.

Use visual merchandising to make gift selection easy

Make everyone’s shopping easier and draw attention to popular items by using merchandising and signage to promote certain product lines and promotions. You can also do this online – send out newsletters that promote gift ideas and organize inventory on your website according to buckets. “Gifts for Him” or “Gifts under $X” are especially appreciated by stressed shoppers!

Continue reading