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Health Officials Warn of Exploding Turkeys

Brent Clodgio checks a Thanksgiving turkey while tailgating before an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in Detroit, Nov. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Health Officials Warn of Exploding Turkeys
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Ask the majority of Americans about the highlight of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and they think of oven-roasted turkey.

But with the increased popularity in outdoor cooking, many Americans have moved out of the kitchen.

And they are diving into huge pots of nearly boiling oil.

Well, not the cooks, but their Thanksgiving turkeys.

In recent years, some Thanksgiving dinners feature a turkey immersed in a fryer filled with hot cooking oil.

Also called Cajun fried turkey, this type of cooking originated in the American south. Outdoor turkey frying started in Louisiana and Kentucky in the 1930s, according to Esquire magazine.

Fried turkey at Thanksgiving started to become popular in the 1980s. This Cajun cooking rage spread into the north United States quickly. Newspapers in New York and Ohio printed Cajun fried turkey recipes. Celebrities like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse made bird frying wildly popular.

But, there is a problem.

Each year, fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires related to deep fryers on Thanksgiving Day. These fires cause more than $15 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

For the past seven years, the state of Texas led the United States with the most grease- and cooking-related injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday. The insurance company State Farm says 38 Texans have been burned by turkey roasters. The state of Illinois reported 27 injured. Pennsylvania and Ohio tied for third with 23 injuries each.

But it’s no joke.

The most common injuries from turkey frying are severe burns caused by spilled or splattered oil.

The NFPA suggests holiday chefs to set up the fryer far away from any building. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying, they say. A partially-thawed turkey will cause the oil to splatter. Frozen turkeys are full of water, and as the saying goes, oil and water do not mix.

Safety officials also warned about moving the fried turkey to the serving table. Hot oil can splash or spill easily.

Two years ago, a turkey fryer fire brought 23 firemen to a Charlotte, North Carolina home to control a blaze. The same year, a home in Minnesota was damaged by a turkey cookout.

I'm Anna Matteo.

Jim Dresbach wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

How do you prepare your holiday meals? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

oven – n. a piece of cooking equipment that is used for baking or roasting food

turkey – n. a large American bird that is related to the chicken and that is hunted or raised by people for its meat

splatter – v. to cause a liquid to move or fall in large drops

thaw – v. to stop being frozen or to cause something to stop being frozen