The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may approve of your Thanksgiving celebration. Still, they do not want you to clean your turkey.

That's because the US Department of Agriculture found that 60 percent of kitchen sinks were infected with germs after people cleaned their poultry. According to the USDA, One out of every four persons who wash chicken will cross-contaminate other foods being prepared.

"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," the USDA says via Miami Herald.

Food Bank Hands Out Turkeys Ahead Of Thanksgiving
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 21: A volunteer prepares a box of turkeys to be given out during the 2006 holiday turkey distribution at the San Francisco Food Bank on November 21, 2006, in San Francisco, California. Despite donations being down at most food banks across the country, the San Francisco Food Bank will distribute over 1,500 turkeys to churches and community centers over the holiday season.

CDC Recommends Not Washing Your Turkey This Thanksgiving

This holiday season, the CDC is advising people not to wash their turkeys. But despite the CDC's annual reminder, 78 percent of participants in a 2020 survey indicated they wash or rinse turkey before cooking.

"Old recipes and family cooking traditions may keep this practice going, but it can make you and your family sick. Poultry juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops," said the CDC.

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Since raw turkey may infect whatever it comes into contact with, the USDA recommends scrubbing your hands clean with soap and warm water for 20 seconds after handling it. While it has been advised against washing turkey since 2005 for food safety reasons, experts say it is an old tradition that might be difficult to give up.

How to Avoid Food Contamination

Experts recommend not placing your frozen turkey on the counter to defrost. According to the CDC (per WebMD), the turkey's temperature left at room temperature for more than two hours becomes unhealthy, and it may reach "the danger zone" between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Instead, defrost the turkey in a refrigerator container; in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (changing the water every half hour); or in a microwave, if you have one large enough to hold a turkey.

If you decide to wash your turkey despite the CDC and USDA's instructions, ensure your sink is well cleaned afterward. With hot water and soap, scrub the sink, as well as all cutting boards and surfaces. After that, use a cleaning solution to sterilize them. According to the USDA, one gallon of water and one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach can be used to produce one.

To keep you and your loved ones safe, the CDC suggests following the four primary food safety rules: clean (your hands and surfaces), separate raw and cooked foods, prepare correctly, and chill (refrigerate promptly).

RELATED ARTICLE: CDC Links Latest Salmonella Outbreak to Raw, Frozen, Breaded Chicken Products

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