Should you wash your Christmas turkey before cooking it?
16 December 2022, 09:01
With roast potatoes to prepare, gravy to simmer and vegetables to peel and roast, do you really need to wash your turkey too?
A turkey dinner with all the trimmings is no doubt one of the highlights of Christmas Day.
The delicious bird with crispy skin traditionally takes centre stage, along with fluffy roast potatoes, buttery vegetables and glugs of rich gravy.
But as many families know, a holiday table heavy with home-cooked delights takes a lot of preparation.
And as if the peeling, chopping, slicing, dicing and part-boiling wasn't enough, some budding chefs have even asked if you need to wash your turkey before cooking it.
Thankfully you can scratch that job off your long kitchen to-do list as food experts have revealed that rinsing poultry under the tap is not necessary.
In fact, in some cases it can be pretty dangerous due to the spread of deadly bacteria contained within the raw meat.
The United States Department of Agriculture explained: "Many consumers think that washing their turkey will remove bacteria and make it safer. However, it’s virtually impossible to wash bacteria off the bird.
"Instead, juices that splash during washing can transfer bacteria onto the surfaces of your kitchen, other foods and utensils. This is called cross-contamination, which can make you and your guests very sick."
If you do need to clean the turkey before it goes in the oven, experts suggest wiping it with a disposable paper towel, which immediately gets thrown in the bin.
However just properly cooking the Christmas turkey will kill any salmonella or campylobacter that may be present.
The USDA continued: "The only way to destroy bacteria on your turkey is to cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
"Some chefs prefer to cook to a higher temperature for flavor and texture."
And after handling the turkey? "Be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. This simple, but important step can help keep you and your guests safe from foodborne illness," added the USDA.
So whoever is on turkey duty during your Christmas Day, tell them the bird doesn't need a wash – just their hands instead.
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