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L.A. Fire Department warns again about deep-fried turkey

November 23, 2008 | 10:00 am

It's not every day when the local fire department tells you how to cook.

But with Thanksgiving approaching, the Los Angeles Fire Department is urging people not to fry their turkeys. Why this turn as food police? It has less to do with calories than with the safety concerns of frying the bird.

"A longtime favorite in the southern United States, deep-fried turkey has grown increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to celebrity chefs," said LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey on the department's blog. "What television chefs won't mention, though, is the significant danger associated with deep-fat turkey fryers."

Humphrey cites numerous dangers with deep-frying turkeys, including the hot oil spilling, the chances of a fire being sparked and the chances of the chef being burned. He also offers safety tips if you really must fry that bird.

Such warnings have become more common in recent years. Underwriters Laboratories blames Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse. "We're worried by the increasing reports of fires related with turkey fryer use," says John Drengenberg, UL consumer affairs manager in a statement. "Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks."

Last year, The Times John L. Mitchell profiled a eatery on Crenshaw Boulevard that does huge business Thankgiving week selling their deep-fried turkeys:

At Tasty Q Barbecue in Southwest Los Angeles, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for deep-fried turkeys. It is a specialty at the Crenshaw Boulevard eatery, and on Wednesday workers were preparing dozens of turkeys for cooking in a vat of boiling oil. “Here you buy and we fry, or you can buy one of ours,” said Tasty Q worker Donna Morrison. “Is it dangerous? Sure, if you don’t know what you are doing. Anything can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

More deep-fried turkey safety tips here, plus a scary video titled "Your Turkey or Your Life."

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Eric Boyd / LAT