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To rinse or not rinse inside of turkey before placing in oven

My family has always rinsed the inside of the turkey and removed the bag of gizzards before roasting the bird in the oven. Now I read that's it's been highly recommended by health authorities since 1995 that the bird should be placed directly in the oven from its packaging. The logic is that rinsing causes salmonella from the bird to spread to the kitchen counter and utensils.

Personally, I like the bird rinsed first ( we do it under the bathroom faucet and then dry with paper towels) until there's no bloody residue. It just feels cleaner to me. Now I read this in the NY Times in the link below. Will this change your preparation?


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  1. "Certainly a thorough hand washing with hot water and soap and an equally attentive sink scrubbing would eliminate much of the risk of cross-contamination, but meticulous sink and counter maintenance often goes out the window, particularly on Thanksgiving, when cooks are dealing with high volumes of food and the distraction of a houseful of guests."

    It might go out the window in some homes, but it doesn't in mine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockandroller1

      I agree.

      After I have cut up and rinsed any meat product, and after it is in the oven/stew pot/gas grill, etc., I sterilize the sink and the counter with Lysol Food Surface Sanitizer or something similar. If the writer from the NYT doesn't do this type of thing, then that certainly doesn't say much for his/her sense of sanitation, hygiene and cleanliness.

      To suggest that one should not rinse a potentially bacteria-laden food item because the countertop might get dirty/contaminated is just bizarre, IMHO.

    2. I rinse, dry with a towel, not paper towels, and I then "sterlize" the cavity with bourbon or brandy. If there's anything living, that kills it for sure, and gives off a very nice aroma.

      1. The trick is slow on the water. The cross-contamination to the counter and the like occur from the splashing. It you slowly turn on the water to gain a light stream this is minimized. After the bird is bathed wipe it with paper towels and then throw the paper towels out. Bird now goes into the roaster. Then jfood scrubs down the sink and the surrounding counters with hot soapy water. It may not be perfect but you try to do the best you can.

        1. I would rinse. I think the article is a load of hockey.

          Rinsing the turkey spreads salmonella all over the kitchen? For one, it's all staying in the sink going down the drain. For two, where did it come from? The turkey you are going to eat? Well then...

          3 Replies
          1. re: FrankJBN

            On the same note, I would ask....

            How many of you, in all your years, got salmonella from Thanksgiving dinner?

            I can say I never did and my mom washed out her turkey back in the day, as I do now.

            Horse hockey, indeed. Trust your instincts.

            1. re: TrishUntrapped

              Seriously, that was my reaction to this article. Is there a yearly rash of food poisoning incidents on thanksgiving that I am missing that has made this a significant enough public health issue to provoke an official announcement?

              1. re: dinnerbell

                Like people aren't cooking poultry all year long. It's the "we have nothing to report, so we are going to run a salmonella article and another one about how fattening Thanksgiving is and another one about how miserable it is to travel on Thanksgiving" syndrome.

          2. I rinse all poultry that I cook. Just a habit, the faucet is on low, & we have a deep sink so the threat of splashing chicken juice around in nil. After rinsing the sink, and surrounding counters are scrubbed, and sanitized as part of a keeping a clean/safe kitchen.

            Also I do not trust anything the N.Y Times writes, so that article just gives me confirmation my process is the way to go. ; )

            1. The USDA recommends not rinsing any poultry or meat. And, in general, that is completely unnecessary.

              Sometimes there is "gore" from the gutting of the bird. If that bothers you for some reason (?), rinse.

              If you are afraid of bacteria, it gets killed by cooking, not rinsing.

              If you are afraid of dirt or other stuff, buy your bird from a different source.

              2 Replies
              1. re: C. Hamster

                From the people who change the food pyramid every few years. I trust the USDA ... not.

                It might just explain why the USDA has been telling us for years that stuffing the bird will cause samonella and the turkey must be cooked to a temparture that turns it to leather ....


                Wash the turkey and you won't have problems with the stuffing, etc.

                I really appreciate the comment ...

                "I just don't believe people are that good," Ms. Harris said about sanitation.

                Like Martha Stewart I treat turkey and actually all meat like toxic waste. The entire area gets sanitized before and after the bird is prepared.

                I'm sorry, but not washing the bird thoroughly just sounds disgusting.

                1. re: rworange

                  The things that make you sick don't wash away. If they're present in large enough quantities to make you sick in the first place, only cooking does (well irradiation and long term ultra low temp freezing too). On the other hand, the recommendation to not wash is written for the general public who probably don't do a thorough job of sanitizing. I think it comes down to what makes you most comfortable.

              2. As long as the thickest part of that bird reaches 165 degrees you'll be in good shape.
                Rinse or no rinse!

                1. "Julia Child was a chicken washer, a point she debated with her television cooking partner, Jacques P├ępin, who does not rinse."

                  I'm going to go with Jacques on this one. Skip it, save some time, and you will use less paper towels patting dry. Save a tree.

                  1. Okay, so here goes. You have the turkey on the counter. You cut the plastic wrapper.. There's liquid inside the wrapper and dribbles out onto the counter, regardless of whether or not you wash the turkey. Ooops. Or, you cut the turkey's wrapper with the turkey sitting in the sink. The liquid dribbles into the sink. Same thing. You should be scrubbing carefully afterward either way.

                    As most of us did, I learned how to cook poultry from my mother. She always washes whole birds and if using thighs with backs attached, cleans out the "gunk" and rinses the individual pieces. She also commits the cardinal sin of making her stuffing and stuffing the bird the night before Turkey day. (I'm pretty sure the stuffing is cool before the bird is stuffed.) And somehow, to my knowledge, there haven't been any reports of salmonella from any household members or guests.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shayna Madel

                      I have to agree with you- I always open my turkeys, or chickens for that matter, in the sink so that any free fluid can go down the drain instead of all over the counters. Of course this is after throughly cleaning the sink and nearby counters, before hand; and again afterwards. I figure if the bird is already in the sink, I might as well rinse it out & dry if off with paper towels.