Some people always wash their poultry before cooking, while some have never heard of the practice. Food safety experts warn that washing turkey is a fantastic way to spread a lot of bacteria throughout your kitchen. There are more risks washing your bird than if you were to not wash it.
Washing a turkey or chicken is not a “kill step,” an operative word in the food industry for preventing a foodborne pathogen. “If there are pathogens on the turkey, it just spreads around your kitchen,” Detwiler said. “Your entire sink area now is basically a contaminated danger zone.”
And it’s not only your sink you need to be concerned about. Campbell added, “Surfaces, such as sinks, countertops, dishes, dish towels and dish racks can become contaminated.”
If you or your family have always washed poultry, it can be easy to think it’s a necessary part of food preparation. Schneider explained that this is a common reason people continue to wash meat. “One of the things we run into is that most people tend to have a false sense of security because they’ve done something for so long, and no one’s gotten ill so it reinforces that behavior,” he said. “Washing is not going to make the bird safer.”
Schneider knows habits can be hard to break, so he recommends that if you still plan to wash your meat, don’t use high pressure to rinse the turkey and thoroughly clean your kitchen. “Make sure that you sanitize afterwards so that you don’t potentially cross-contaminate your cutting board, utensils and other things in the kitchen,” he said. He recommends using an antibacterial kitchen cleaner that kills 99.9% of bacteria.