PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — This week, millions of Americans will be preparing that turkey for Thanksgiving.

You stuff it, you baste it, you might even deep fry it, but there’s one thing experts say you should never do to your turkey.

Fried or roasted, turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, but no matter how you cook it, this is usually what happens first.

In a recent study, about 90 percent of Americans say they wash their poultry before cooking it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises against washing raw poultry.

They say it doesn’t get rid of bacteria; instead, it moves it in and around the sink and even onto clean dishes making it easier to ingest.

“In literature, they call it aerosolization, you have this tiny spray that is splashing,” said Jennifer Quinlan, a food researcher.

Chef Carol Cotner helped test what happens when a turkey is washed.

We covered a turkey with a substance called Glo-Germ, which simulates bacteria, and then washed the turkey in the sink.

After you wash the turkey, your sink and counters might look clean, but when we turn off the lights, a black light can pick up the traces of Glo-Germ, and it’s everywhere – the sink, the faucet, the counter, even inside the chef’s gloves.

“I have lots of residual bacteria all over,” said Cotner.

Even after giving the area a scrub down, bacteria was still there.

“I was surprised because it’s on my clothing, it’s on the floor, it was on the wall, it was on the handles of the sink. It really spreads,” said Cotner. “You think of washing things with sterilizing and with poultry, that’s not the case.”

These are all the places where salmonella could be lurking.

“It can spread far, and it doesn’t take much to be in there to make you sick,” said Quinlan.

So what do you do?

Experts say put the turkey in the sink, cut the bag, drain the juice and immediately put it into the roasting pan.

If you feel the need to wash the turkey, try wiping it with a wet paper towel and then tossing that immediately in the trash.

Holiday Guide
More Reports by Susan Koeppen