This Is Why You Should Never Rinse Your Thanksgiving Turkey


If you're in charge of cooking the turkey this Thanksgiving dinner keep in mind this essential tip: Rinsing a raw turkey could spread more bacteria than it would get rid of it.

Experts do not recommend washing raw meat and poultry before cooking because many bacteria are quite loosely attached and when you rinse these foods the bacteria will be spread around your kitchen.

On the other hand, water can also splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, which can lead to illnesses.

“Unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious foodborne illness, explains Maria Malagon, Director of Food Safety Education with USDA FSIS. “Turkeys may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, harmful pathogens that are only destroyed by properly preparing and cooking a turkey.”

What should we do with our Thanksgiving turkey?

turkey prep

Researchers at Drexel University recommend that it’s best to move the poultry straight from package to pan, since the heat required for cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present, and that’s it! There is no need to scrub or rinse your bird.

Steps to follow when cooking your turkey this Thanksgiving:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food.
  • Do not wash the turkey! This only spreads bacteria onto kitchen surfaces.
  • You should always keep any raw meat and poultry separated from all other foods.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils when handling a raw turkey.
  • Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer.
  • You can check the temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.