NEW YORK (CBS News) — A time-honored tradition for many families on Thanksgiving is cooking a turkey. Many don’t realize that bacteria found in many turkeys can contaminate an entire kitchen and expose guests to foodborne illnesses.
This thanksgiving follows a 16-month, salmonella outbreak blamed on recalled turkey products. The outbreak ended in March and serves as a warning for consumers.
Salmonella and Campylobacter are the two types of bacteria found in the guts of many turkeys. Food safety expert Chris Bernstein from the USDA said the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands but don’t wash or rinse the bird.
“Recent USDA research found that when individuals wash meat or poultry, they end up spreading germs in much greater levels all around the kitchen including into food that may be served,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein also warns to use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is cooked al the way through.
“You want to make sure you cook that turkey to a full 165 degrees throughout the bird. Because it’s so large it can cook unevenly. So you need to take that temperature in 3 places: the thickest part of the breast, the inner-most part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing,” Berstein said.
Other important tips from experts include remembering to never partially cook a turkey and then transport it elsewhere to finish cooking. Never stuff a turkey the night before. Never thaw the bird on the counter thaw it in your fridge or in cold water.