(NBCNC) - It's almost Thanksgiving and that means a lot of us are wondering how on earth we're going to prepare that giant bird defrosting in the refrigerator.
One of the worst things you can do while prepping a thanksgiving turkey is rinsing it off.
"That's really a no-no. First of all, washing the turkey will do nothing to get rid of the pathogens or the bacteria that's on the turkey," Carmen Rottenberg with the United States Department of Agriculture said.
What it does do is splash that bacteria all over the sink and onto counter tops where other food is prepared. The only safe way to kill bacteria is to cook the bird thoroughly.
A meat thermometer must reach 165 degrees in three spots inside the turkey -- the inner-most parts of the breast, wing and thigh.
USDA food safety experts say they get a lot of calls to the turkey hotline from people who get a little too comfortable post-feast.
"They'll call in to the hotline and mention that they have had too much wine to drink and they had fallen asleep before they packed up their leftovers and put them in the refrigerator," Rottenberg said.
That's a real problem -- and a real food poisoning risk -- because bacteria grows quickly on food at room temperature. Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of serving.
If you get to Thursday morning and realize you forgot to defrost the turkey, don't panic. Experts say you can cook a frozen turkey. Just plan on having it in the oven longer.
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