Stop! Washing Your Thanksgiving Turkey May Spread Germs

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Thanksgiving is coming around the corner. I bet your turkey is already in your freezer. Then, what’s the first step of your preparation? Grabbing your Thanksgiving bird and rinsing it thoroughly before throwing it in the oven?



If so, don’t do that. Let me repeat, DO NOT do that. With all the things on your Thanksgiving feast list, one thing you should not wash is the turkey.


Washing turkey can spread germs around


No doubt your granny and mom will tell you to rinse your turkey before you start to cook it. Washing all the food is just the safer thing to do. It feels good and can make food much cleaner.



However, according to the US Department of Agriculture, rinsing turkey doesn't remove any germs and may end up spreading dangerous bacteria around your kitchen.


The bacteria on raw turkey include E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, which may commonly be found in their guts. If contaminating other foods or cooking supplies, they may lead to food poisoning.



Since nobody eats raw turkey, and cooking it thoroughly can kill the germs, having germs on the turkey is not a big deal. But if you wash your turkey, the germs are more likely to be spread to the sink or anything else in the kitchen.


To testify this theory, the researchers required the participants to cook turkey with a harmless strain of E. coli in their test kitchens. Among the participants who washed their turkey, about 15% ended up spreading the bacteria to their lettuce.



How to make your turkey safe?


First, do not wash your turkey. Besides, experts suggest you not to thaw your frozen turkey by leaving it on the counter. It is likely for germs on the outer parts of the turkey to multiply. Instead, thaw your turkey in fridges, cold water or in microwaves.


The only way to kill bacteria on your turkey is to cook it to 165 degrees F at its center. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the deepest and thickest parts.



Last but not least, if you want to refrigerate the cooked turkey, you’d better refrigerate them after two hours.


Hope these tips work for you. And may you have a Thanksgiving full of joy!

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