USDA: Don't wash that Thanksgiving turkey before you roast it

USDA: Don't wash that Thanksgiving turkey before you roast it

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - You may think washing a raw turkey will help remove bacteria, but the USDA is warning against doing that.

They say you should never wash a turkey, or any meat for that matter, before cooking. It is nearly impossible, they say, to wash the bacteria away and droplets that splash during the washing can then transfer bacteria onto kitchen surfaces or other food or utensils.

The USDA says the only way to destroy bacteria on your turkey is to cook it to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. The best way to test your turkey to make sure it has reached 165 degrees is to place a food thermometer in three areas, first, at the thickest part of the breast, next, at the innermost part of the thigh, and finally at the innermost part of the wing.

One in six Americans could get sick from food this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says that adds up to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

According to the USDA, Thanksgiving is a time to be especially careful to prevent food-borne illnesses. That's because Americans are preparing a meal they don't cook on a regular basis for a large number of people, and it's easy to make mistakes.

The USDA has a Food Safety Hotline at 1-800-535-4555, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET and from 8 a.m., to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

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