NEW YORK, NY – Go ahead and rinse your cranberries, potatoes and green beans. But food experts say don’t — repeat don’t — wash the turkey before popping it in the oven on Thanksgiving Day.
They say that could spread the germs lurking on your turkey in the kitchen sink or nearby food. But it’s been a challenge trying to convince cooks to stop rinsing off raw poultry.
“If your mother did it and your grandmother did it, and suddenly the (government) says not to wash your turkey, you may take some time to adjust,” said Drusilla Banks, who teaches food sanitation for the University of Illinois Extension.
Germs that can make people sick are common in the guts of healthy poultry and are legally allowed to be on raw turkey and chicken. The assumption is that nobody eats their poultry rare, and that thorough cooking will kill the bacteria.
So it’s possible that two common causes of food poisoning — salmonella and campylobacter — are on the turkey, said Mindy Brashears, a food safety official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.