Please Do Not Wash Your Thanksgiving Turkey This Year
There are a million little things to worry about getting right if you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, but there’s one step you should seriously avoid: Rinsing a raw turkey before putting it in the oven.
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It sounds counterintuitive, because you might want to give the old bird a little wash-off before its big moment, but washing an uncooked turkey can splash pathogens, like salmonella, onto other kitchen surfaces, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That means you’re spreading more bacteria in your kitchen, which can lead to serious foodborne illnesses.
We checked with the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Test Kitchen to get their thoughts, and they agreed, saying this rule should apply to all raw poultry, not just turkey. “We recommend you pat raw poultry dry with paper towels instead,” Associate Food Editor Cathy Lo says. The best part? This will give your turkey extra crispy (and extra delicious!) skin.
The best way to avoid bacteria on your bird is actually to pop it in the oven, the USDA states. That’s because the only way to kill the bacteria on uncooked food that causes those food borne illnesses is to cook it. “Also make sure you wash cutting boards, surfaces, and hands to avoid any other cross-contamination,” Lo adds.
After handling a raw bird, scrub your cooking surfaces clean with hot soapy water. “If you do want to disinfect hard non-porous surfaces, like counters and plastic cutting boards, use a disinfecting cleaner or wipe, like Clorox or Lysol,” Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, recommends. “Just be sure the surface stays wet for the time recommended on the label for bacteria to be killed.”
So, this is a friendly reminder to wash everything, just not the turkey.