Fail: Cargill recommends washing turkey

Cargill, the owners of the Honeysuckle White brand of turkey, may want to update its turkey prep instructions; and maybe before Christmas.

A reader sent in this label; I enlarged it but my aging eyes still couldn’t make out what it said.

According to the Honeysuckle White website,

“Leave the turkey in its original wrapping and place it on a tray in your refrigerator. Allow five hours of defrosting time per pound. For example, a 14-19 lb. turkey will need 3-4 days to thoroughly defrost. If your turkey hasn’t completely thawed by the time you’re ready to cook it, place it under cold, running water to accelerate the thawing process.”

This will spread Salmonella, Campylobacter and others throughout your kitchen, at home or in a restaurant.

Cargill also recommends, “Rinse the turkey both inside and out with cool water and pat it dry with paper towels.”

Guess Cargill’s not up on the science: don’t wash that bird (unless you killed it in your backyard with a bow and arrow in Kansas, sure, wash it to help get the feathers out; but I thought Cargill had sorta figured that out).

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  • Brian

    Actually, I did a similar procedure due to the 19.52-lb (8.87-kg) turkey still had ice crystals adjacent to the wing joints, even after four-plus days in a 4 degree C refrigerator. Running a slow stream of lukewarm (instead of cold) water in the kitchen sink accelerated (within 15 min) the final defrosting for easy extraction of the excised, still-frozen deskinned neck and paper-packaged giblets (liver and kidneys) nesting deep in the hollowed torso. The deep-dish roasting pan pre-positioned on the kitchen counter was a mere 10 cm from the turkey-in-the-sink and was simple to transfer the rinsed bird. [Note: I refrained from patting down the bird with paper towels (Cargill’s procedure) since the added moisture dissipates during roasting. Also, I do not want to deal with the potential pathogen contamination traipsing from kitchen sink to the kitchen garbage pail stored inside a cabinet across the room.]

    I do not believe that my pre-panning, final rinsing procedure, including “flipping the bird” for final thawing of the turkey’s backside in the sink, caused my kitchen to become a CDC hot zone. I did use sufficient dish soap and warm water to clean the post-turkeyed sink and my hands. One of the turkey breasts was pierced with the re-useable standard operating temperature meat probe (exposed through the aluminum foil covering the bird as it was too big for the roasting pan cover). The cook time at 325-350 F (163-177 C) during basting for the unstuffed bird met the 4-4.5-hr procedure recommended on the wrapping on the turkey from a Cargill competitor. Core breast meat temperature reached about 170 degrees F (77 C) and man, it was a delicious main course for thirteen people on Thursday night with leftover turkey to boot (rather, carcass meat was removed and refrigerated for the next day’s snacking) . 😉

  • We always bleach the sink and working surfaces after the turkey prep.

  • Kristine Scott

    Thawing under running water is actually 1 of 3 acceptable ways to thaw out food.