Wait, should you wash your chicken before you cook it?

According to the FDA, rinsing produce under clean, cool running water with the help of a little gentle friction between your fingertips is the most effective way to clean raw fruits and vegetables. This begs the question: Does this same procedure apply when handling raw poultry, like chicken?

Many people who have also asked this question have chosen to quickly wash raw chicken with the impression that it can only help — understandably. However, according to Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, FACEP, FUHM, FACMT, medical toxicologist and co-medical director at the National Capital Poison Center, the truth is washing chickens. before Cooking can actually increase the risk of cross-contamination and spread of foodborne illnesses. Here are the things to know.

Should chicken be washed before cooking?

First, know that if you’re in the habit of washing chicken the way you produce it, you’re certainly not alone. Dr Johnson-Arbor said: “A 2015 survey of more than 1,500 grocery-buying adults in the United States found that nearly 70% of people wash raw poultry before cooking. According to her, the confusion can be traced back to the idea that “washing chicken can help remove germs from the meat or blood and slime from the product.” However, Dr. Johnson-Arbor wants people to know that simply isn’t true. Instead, it is unnecessary work and is discouraged under food safety guidelines.

“When preparing chicken, turkey or other meat products for cooking, it is important to remember that washing and rinsing has not been shown to be effective in removing bacteria and viruses,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. other germs from meat. Conversely, it can lead to the transfer of bacteria and pathogens to surfaces. “It is important to note that poultry washing can unintentionally—and often microscopically—transfer germs from raw chicken to other foods or cooking equipment, as well as sinks, countertops or other surfaces in your kitchen. a process known as ‘cross-contamination,’ she said.

Risk of cross infection

According to the USDA, cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, and utensils if they are not handled properly. Avoiding it is especially important when handling perishable foods such as raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood that are susceptible to foodborne illness—which is why letting these foods (and water) juices) away from processed or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce is essential.

When it comes to handling raw chicken, research shows the potential for cross-contamination is very high if it is washed. “In a study of people who washed raw poultry, 60% had bacteria in the sink after washing or rinsing meat. “Even when people try to clean the sink after washing poultry, 14% of these people still have bacteria in the sink,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor, Dr. Johnson-Arbor, which can lead to food poisoning. “These leftover bacteria can cause serious foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella and Campylobacter infections. Due to the risk of cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that people do not wash or wash meat or poultry during processing. Food Processing.”

How to clean chicken safely

While it’s not possible to wash chicken in the sink, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says you can use other techniques to remove any unwanted residue before cooking. “If you want to remove blood, slime or other unwanted products from raw poultry, do not wash or rinse the meat. Instead, gently dab the affected area with a damp paper towel to remove unwanted substance,” she says. Next, she emphasized that washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw poultry is very important.

If you have concerns or questions about foodborne illness or if someone develops unwanted or unexpected signs or symptoms attributed to food poisoning after handling raw chicken, Dr. Johnson-Arbor recommends contacting poison control for expert advice. “There are two ways to access poison control in the United States: online at or by phone at 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free, secure and work 24 hours a day,” she said.

This easy to make chicken tostada is on tonight’s menu:


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