Wash your hands this Thanksgiving. Wash your potatoes, your fruits and your vegetables.
But the United States Department of Agriculture doesn’t want anyone washing their turkey — or any meats, for that matter.“Washing or rinsing any meat or poultry is not recommended, and actually increases the risk you will cross-contaminate germs to other foods you’re preparing,” the USDA said in its annual Thanksgiving food safety guidance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ignited social media debates last year when they issued similar guidance about washing raw chicken.
Food experts acknowledge raw meats contain dangerous bacteria that can cause food poisonings like salmonella and campylobacter. Even so, they stress the bacteria can be killed 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.
Drusilla Banks, who teaches food sanitation for the University of Illinois Extension, told the Associated Press the USDA’s do-not-wash guidance is still relatively new, so it has been met with resistance from those who grew up being taught to do the opposite.
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 counter tops with soap and hot water and then sanitize them with a cleaning solution to remove any residual germs you cannot see.”
Raw turkey on roasting pan during preparation of traditional American Thanksgiving holiday meal, November 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. The Associated Press contributed to this report.