USDA: Washing Your Raw Thanksgiving Turkey Spreads Germs


Washing your raw Thanksgiving turkey can spread germs and make your family and dinner guests sick, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

That’s because washing raw meat or poultry can splash bacteria around the sink, across countertops, and into already prepared foods.

Turkeys can be large and hard to handle, which makes the risk of cross-contamination higher during Thanksgiving meal preparation.

Turkeys may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter which are common pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.

A recent USDA study found that 60% of sinks were contaminated after raw poultry was handled in the sink.

“Cooking turkey to the correct internal temperature of 165ºF will kill any bacteria, making washing an unnecessary step,” the USDA advises.

Currently, 68 percent of people wash their Thanksgiving turkey before cooking the raw bird.

Do Wash Your Turkey After Brining

The exception to this rule is brining, the USDA says.

When rinsing the brine off of your Thanksgiving turkey, be sure to remove all other food or objects from the sink, layer the area with paper towels and rinse the bird with a slow stream of water to avoid splashing.


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