Most people don’t think twice about running water over produce before using them as ingredients for a meal. It’s only common sense to wash away dirt that may be on the surface of fruits and vegetables.
For raw chicken, however, experts warn that washing before cooking may cause more harm than good.
Food safety is everyone's business, especially if you have small kids in the house. When it comes to chicke, one should always assume that the raw chicken from the market or grocery store has Salmonella and Campylo bacteria, the leading causes of food-borne illness, said food safety researcher Jennifer Quinlan, an associate professor at Drexel University.
In a survey done by Quinlan and her team, they found that washing raw poultry was a common unsafe practice for many people. “Some think they’re cleaning off germs. Some just want to get slime off, or feel like it’s dirty,” she said.
Washing the chicken, though, will not kill the harmful bacteria. In fact, you may be spreading it all over your counter tops instead. “If you wash it, you’re more likely to spray bacteria all over the kitchen and yourself,” said Quinlan.
By washing the chicken, you increase the chance of spreading the bacteria on your sink and the surrounding surfaces through a process called aerosolization. And if other food gets in contact with these surfaces, they risk getting cross-contaminated. Watch the video below as a visual aid.
The proper way to get rid of the bacteria is to cook the poultry to at least 165 °F (73.89 °C). The heat will destroy harmful germs and bacteria on the meat.
If you wish to get rid of the slime on your raw poultry, you can simply wipe the slime away with a paper towel.
Quinlan and her team have started a campaign called “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” that aims to inform people of the dangers of washing raw poultry before cooking it. The video above is part of the project. Learn more about it here.
Sources: May 22, 2015. "Why Washing Chicken Before Cooking is Unsafe (Video)". livescience.com Undated. "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures". foodsafety.gov