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Skip the sink when prepping turkey

News Release Distributed 11/20/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – Giving your Thanksgiving turkey a good rinse before cooking is something many cooks were taught to do, but LSU AgCenter nutritionist and food safety experts say washing poultry or meat can promote cross contamination.

People like traditions during the holidays, and nutritionist Denise Holston-West said many people rinse their poultry because that is the way they were taught.

“I guess they thought you can wash away the bacteria,” Holston-West said.

She said rinsing the meat will remove some bacteria, but it will also spread it. Water splashing off the turkey can carry the bacteria to counter tops, drain boards, arms and clothing. Splashing water can land up to three feet away.

She added that bacteria will remain on the meat even after rinsing, so it serves little purpose.

“You won’t wash it away. You need to cook it away,” Holston-West said.

That means cooking to 165 degrees using a food thermometer and not relying on pop-up thermometers inserted in turkeys. The nutritionist said to check the temperature in the wings, thighs and thickest part of the breast.

If you are stuffing the turkey, which isn’t recommended for food safety purposes, Holston-West said to check the temperature of the stuffing and make sure it also reaches 165 degrees.

She also warns against keeping food out on the table beyond two hours after the meal. Cut the turkey into small pieces and refrigerate it. All leftovers should be put away promptly and eaten or frozen within three to four days.

Tobie Blanchard

Last Updated: 11/20/2014 4:29:00 PM

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