Day 321–Talking Turkey


Turkey (Photo credit: wattpublishing)

I love turkey. I have been known (several times) to head to the store the day AFTER Thanksgiving to purchase another turkey (on sale) because I didn’t get enough of the first one. It’s not only the turkey itself, but all the yummy, comfort food leftovers that come from extra turkey–turkey pot pie, turkey hash, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup…

We recently had a conversation at work about turkey preparation and the subject of washing the turkey came up. Personally, I hate that part. There are few things more irritating than trying to rinse out an 18 pound turkey in a regular sized sink.  What a mess. I have a friend (not naming names, but you know who you are) who actually rinses her turkey in a bleach and water mixture. I’m all for avoiding bad bacteria, but not enough to ingest toxins in place of them.

So, I was delighted to find information from the US Department of Agriculture that directs consumers NOT to wash poultry. Why not? Apparently a study in the UK found that washing your chicken or turkey can spray salmonella bacteria up to 3 feet away from your sink, accidentally contaminating food prep surfaces (and other foods). Washing doesn’t remove the bacteria, it just spreads it around. In addition, if you are cooking your birds to the prescribed 165 degrees, all bacteria will be killed by heat anyway.

So here are some tips for enjoying your turkey and making sure you don’t get some horrible family reputation for making everyone ill:

  • If you buy a frozen turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator, not on the counter and NOT in a sink of warm water.
  • Wash your hands, utensils and all food prep services that come into contact with raw poultry with soap and warm/hot water.
  • Cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 165.
  • Do not leave leftovers out for more than 30 minutes.

Food habits are hard to break, but I feel better about being a little lazy and not “cleaning” my turkey this year.

Tomorrow I will post our planned turkey cooking strategy!

Leave a comment


  1. Thank you for sharing – what a relief that there is no need to worry about rinsing. Enjoy all the turkey this week! 🙂

  2. Food service tip! If you try this with thawing a turkey you will fail because turkeys are too gigantic. But! For smaller cuts– say just a breast? Or a roasting chicken? Anyway… set it in a pan under running cold water. The health dept accepts this method. I like to thaw stuff in a big stock pot. I just fill it up with cold water and then leave it. The health dept would mark a restaurant off points for that, but in your own kitchen it keeps the poultry at a safe COLD holding temp while allowing it to thaw more quickly. Thanks for the info on rinsing!! I hate rinsing chicken. Now I don’t have to 🙂

  3. I just got around to reading this post and had to laugh. I tend to be a bit over-cautious when it comes to getting leftovers cooled down and into the fridge – I like your suggestion of putting food away after 30 minutes. But – I’ve been going to my mother’s cousin’s house for Thanksgiving all my life and she leaves ALL the food out from the time we eat the main meal (1:30 or so) until people start to leave around 7pm. No one has ever gotten sick to my knowledge, but it makes me very, very nervous!

    • Lol!! I don’t have a timer going while we eat and have probably broken this rule many times with no ill effects. I worry about this more with commercially processed chicken though. That seems grosser to me for some reason.


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