Don't wash your turkey! Food safety experts say it could spread germs

If you still think the first step to a healthy Thanksgiving is washing the turkey, think again.

Food safety experts say washing the turkey is a way to spread germs instead of preventing contamination, The Associated Press reported.

Germs like salmonella and campylobacter can legally be on raw poultry, but cooking it kills the bacteria. Those two germs are common causes of food poisoning, the AP reported.

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But washing the birds are hard habits to break, especially if you've been taught to cook the big family meal by traditions passed down from parents and grandparents.

Washing isn't the only way to spread the bacteria.

A thawing turkey could spread the bacteria on counters, so experts say defrost it in the fridge, in cold water or even in the microwave. You can even cook the frozen turkey, but it will take more time to cook to get it to the safe 165-degree temperature in the thickest part of the meat, the AP reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the best part from which to take the bird's temperature is in the innermost area of the thigh or wing and the thickest part of the turkey breast.

After cooking and after dinner, make sure to get leftovers back into the fridge within two hours.

One way to prevent cross contamination -- is to wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds, the USDA said.

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