There are a million little things to worry about getting right if you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, but this is one you don’t want to mess up: Rinsing a raw turkey could spread more bacteria than it would get rid of it, according to previous reporting by the Huffington Post.
It sounds counter intuitive, because you might want to give the old bird a little wash-off before its big moment, but washing an uncooked turkey can splash pathogens, like salmonella, onto other kitchen surfaces, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. And therefore can lead to serious food borne illnesses.
I checked with the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Test Kitchen to get their thoughts, and they agreed, saying this rule should apply to all raw poultry, not just turkey. “We recommend you pat raw poultry dry with paper towels instead,” Cathy Lo, associate food editor, says.
The best way to avoid bacteria on your bird is actually to pop it in the oven, the USDA states. That’s because the only way to kill the bacteria on uncooked food that causes those food borne illnesses is to cook it. “Also make sure you wash cutting boards, surfaces, and hands to avoid any other cross-contamination,” Lo adds.
So remember to wash everything, just not the turkey.