Why You Shouldn’t Wash Chicken Before Cooking
It’s important to follow food safety guidelines when cooking. Bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses can easily be transferred to your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and other food when you wash chicken or turkey before cooking.
Doesn’t poultry have harmful bacteria that you should wash off?
Yes, poultry can harbor harmful bacteria. When you wash raw poultry, though, bacteria from the bird’s surface can spread to the sink, countertops, other surfaces throughout your kitchen, and other foods. Washing chicken before cooking is a food safety no-no.
A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that:
60% of the participants who washed their raw poultry had bacteria in their sink after washing or rinsing the poultry.
26% of participants that washed raw poultry transferred bacteria from that raw poultry to their ready-to-eat foods.
If you don’t wash chicken, how do you remove the bacteria and avoid getting sick?
Instead of washing the poultry, you should make sure to cook the chicken or turkey to a safe internal temperature (165° F for breast/ 175° F for thigh), measured by a food thermometer, to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Some other steps to take to make sure your food is safe:
- Make sure any foods that will not be cooked are stored safely away from where you are handling raw chicken.
- Use a separate cutting board and make sure to wash and sanitize after use.
- After handling raw chicken, make sure to clean and sanitize any surface that could have been contaminated. Use hot soapy water to wipe down countertops and the sink and then use a sanitizer.
- Make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
To be safe and decrease your chance of getting sick, don’t wash raw chicken.
In order to keep your family safe from harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses, you should NOT wash raw poultry before cooking. The safest way to avoid getting sick is by cooking chicken or turkey thoroughly to a safe internal temperature. Be aware of what surfaces may have been contaminated with bacteria, and use hot soapy water and a sanitizer. Finally, always make sure you wash your hands!