ATLANTA - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is OK with vaccinated people gathering for Thanksgiving this year, but they have a warning for those prepping the turkey: Don’t wash it.
It’s the same warning federal food safety experts have been issuing every year since 2005. Washing raw meats raises the risk of cross-contamination and could lead to food poisonings like salmonella and campylobacter.
Such bacteria can be eliminated with thorough cooking. To ensure a turkey is sufficiently cooked, a thermometer can be used to check that the deepest and thickest parts of it have reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite annual reminders from the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 78% of respondents to a 2020 survey reported washing or rinsing their turkey before cooking.
"Old recipes and family cooking traditions may keep this practice going, but it can make you and your family sick," the CDC said. "Poultry juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops."
The CDC has tips for handling your turkey the right way. First, wash your hands. Use warm water and lather your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw turkey.
Second, use a separate cutting board for raw turkey. Third, don’t put cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board or any surface that previously held raw turkey.
Finally, wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing turkey and before you prepare the next item.
If you simply must wash your meat, the USDA advises you to clean and disinfect your sink afterward.
"Cleaning and sanitizing is a two-step process," the USDA stressed. "To clean, rub down surfaces including the sink, cutting boards, and countertops with soap and hot water and then sanitize them with a cleaning solution to remove any residual germs you cannot see."
Raw turkey in an oven during the preparation of a traditional American Thanksgiving holiday meal, San Ramon, California, Nov. 23, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Homemade solutions should consist of a tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in a gallon of water.
Afterward, the USDA recommends not wiping the sink dry."Let it air dry," the USDA said.
This story was reported from Atlanta.