not recommended to wash raw chicken

Why you should never wash raw chicken

Before it is cooked, any piece of meat first goes through a stream of water, to wash itself of anything that could have collected the piece of meat on the way to the kitchen. Chicken is no exception. Many of us have a reflex to wash raw meat before cooking, however washing chicken meat under running water can endanger our health, as pressurized water can spread bacteria on meat on hands, clothes and kitchen utensils. 

Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that we do not wash any raw meat, not just chicken. Even if you might think that this operation eliminates bacteria or other harmful elements, this is not the case. And that's because, says the quoted source, "no matter how much you rinse the pieces of meat with water, you won't be able to destroy foodborne pathogens, such as salmonella and Campylobacter, which are responsible for a number of digestive disorders."

According to the quoted source, the mentioned bacteria will not only not be removed, but will even be spread throughout the kitchen, on other foods, on utensils and surfaces. The danger remains if you use hot water instead of cold water. 

In the United States, there has even been a campaign to raise consumer awareness of the risks involved in washing raw meat. Under the slogan "Don't wash your chicken!", The campaign at Drexel and New Mexico universities advises housewives to give up this habit and take into account that cooking usually destroys most of the bacteria present. "To ensure that all bacteria have been destroyed, make sure the meat thermometer indicates an indoor temperature of 75 degrees Celsius for the poultry," USDA officials said. 

In the study, 300 participants prepared chicken and salad in the test kitchens. Some of the participants received social media warning messages about the negative effects of washing chicken before preparing their food, while another group did not receive the messages. 

"Food safety messages effectively encouraged participants not to wash raw chicken pieces before cooking," the study said, with 93% of participants following the warning.

Of the study participants - who were not shown the meat washing warning - 61% washed their chicken before cooking. 30% of them said they did it to remove blood and mud, while 19% said they did it because they saw it in a family member.

Rinsing chicken may seem harmless, but it actually affects the safety of surrounding foods, such as a salad.

"Even when consumers believe it cleans effectively after washing poultry, this study shows that bacteria can easily spread to other surfaces and foods," said Mindy Brashears, USDA Deputy Secretary. "It's best not to wash chicken."

Of the participants who washed their poultry, 60% had bacteria in the sink after washing. Moreover, 14% of them still had bacteria in the sink after trying to clean it.

 What can you do to prevent these bacteria infections?

  • Cover and refrigerate the raw meat before cooking. To reduce the risk of bacteria contamination, cover the chicken with a lid, bowl, or plastic wrap, then refrigerate for a while, preferably in the lower compartment of the refrigerator, to prevent the juices from spilling over other foods. 
  • Do not wash lean meat. Remember that processing meat at high temperatures destroys absolutely any type of bacteria. Washing the meat, on the other hand, only spreads dangerous bacteria.
  • Wash used utensils thoroughly. Another important thing to keep in mind is to thoroughly wash all kitchen utensils, choppers and surfaces used in the preparation of raw meat. In addition, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Cook the meat for as long as possible. Complete cooking of meat is essential to eliminate any risk of intoxication and infection following the consumption of food contaminated with bacteria. Check from time to time if the chicken is brown enough, cut deep and inspect the color of the meat on the inside. The pink color of the meat indicates that it is not cooked enough. In addition, well-cooked meat juices should be colorless.

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