Are you planning on washing that raw turkey before roasting it? You might want to think again.
According to food safety experts at the USDA, there’s only one time you should wash a raw turkey. And that’s after you’ve brined the bird.
In fact, this advice holds true for most raw meats and poultry. Research shows that when you rinse raw meat and poultry, you’re not simply washing bacteria safely down the drain, you’re actually spreading it around the kitchen.
There’s the splash factor, of course. No matter how careful you are, water can splash bacteria “up to 3 feet surrounding your sink,” according to Marianne Gravely, of the Food Safety Education Staff of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. But even if you’ve been vigilant about washing your hands after touching the turkey, you can still spread bacteria by accidentally touching, say, a cross-contaminated countertop and then touching the refrigerator door handle, dishes, utensils, towels, table tops, other food, your cell phone, etc.
What to Do Instead of Washing
Just take the turkey directly from package to roasting pan. This way, you limit the mess, and the heat of the oven will kill the bacteria.
Which brings us to the exception that proves the rule. When you’re brining the bird, you’ll want to rinse off the brine before you roast the turkey.
Safety Tips for Rinsing a Brined Turkey
If you’re washing your brined bird, there are a few precautions you can take to reduce the risk of cross contamination and illness.
Do the dishes. There should be no dishes in the sink or on the counters around the sink. Then clean the sink with hot soapy water and rinse it well. You want to start with a clean workspace.
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