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Study: Washing A Turkey Increases Risk Of Exposure To Bacteria

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File photo of cooked turkeys. (Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of cooked turkeys. (Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHARLOTTE (CBS Charlotte) - New research suggests that turkeys do not need to be washed before they are cooked. In fact, doing so may increase the likelihood of food poisoning.

British researchers warned families across America who are preparing turkeys for their Thanksgiving dinners that the water sprayed while washing a turkey in the sink could spray bacteria to areas up to three feet away from the wash zone.

Harmful bacteria such as salmonella can reportedly be found on one in every 50 birds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Spreading that bacteria onto preparation surfaces and other food items could lead to symptoms such as fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

The Tennessean learned that, rather than washing the bird, home cooks should focus on heating the bird to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Thawing the turkey in the fridge, as opposed to in the sink, is also recommended, even though it may reportedly take several days longer.

There are also potential health hazards awaiting in dessert preparation as well, the paper found. The biggest issue is the consumption of uncooked cake batter and cookie dough, which contains raw eggs.

Though North Carolina State University food safety professor Benjamin Chapman told the Tennessean that he “let[s] others make their own risk decisions,” he and other experts do not recommend the pre-baking taste trials.

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