Did You Know That Washing Raw Chicken Can Cause Food Poisoning?

Do you wash your chicken before cooking? We don’t need a survey to give us the answer to this question as most of us do.

Why most people think that they have to wash or rinse chicken before cooking has many reasons – because our moms do it, to remove blood or slime, or we just think it is safer. But what we don’t know is that by washing raw chicken, it might increase chances of food poisoning.

Raw Chicken

A study done recently seems to back up this assessment. The research was based on 300 people preparing chicken thighs in a test kitchen the same way they would do it at home. It was found that those who washed or rinsed the bird meat, left trails of bacteria all around the kitchen. When doing this in our own kitchens, it might make us or others sick.

Participants were sent food safety messages before they came to the test kitchen to see if instructions to not wash chicken would actually prevent them from doing so. This study included only people who usually wash their chicken before cooking. As part of the study, harmless bacteria was also added to the chicken that would mimic salmonella, to be able to trace where the bacteria went when preparing the meals.

Majority of the participants did not wash their chicken as instructed to, but a very small percentage did actually wash. The participants who did not receive the instructions, washed the chicken as they would normally do and all of them had bacteria in the sink even after cleaning it. Some even transferred the bacteria to the salad they were preparing whereas those who didn’t wash had no problems.

Lettuce contamination probably came from improper handwashing according to the researchers’ standpoint. Only 25 percent of the people in the study washed their hands properly during meal prep and only 4 of them washed them properly. The common mistake is not to rub their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.

It is risky not to follow proper food safety precautions when preparing chicken. Chances that we buy contaminated chicken are high, so it’s good to assume so while preparing it.

Raw Chicken

How to stay safe

To make sure that you stay on the safe side when preparing your chicken, follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before you start cooking.

Rub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. These steps are usually not performed properly.

  • Prep the food that you will eat raw before preparing any type of meat.

Prepare salad greens and other food that does not require cooking first then remove them from the prep area to decrease the chance of contamination.

  • Do not wash chicken before cooking.

You won’t remove any bacteria that can cause illness by washing it. Washing will only increase the risk of contaminating your kitchen or other food that you are preparing. If you want to remove anything from chicken, just pat it with a damp towel then wash your hands again.

Raw Chicken
  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat.

We cannot stop stressing on the hand washing as this is what will prevent spreading bacteria from the chicken or any other raw meat

  • Use designated kitchen utensils.

The same cutting board, knife and plate should not be used for both raw meat and other foods that will be eaten uncooked. But if you have to, be sure to clean and sanitize well before swapping food.

  • Make use of a thermometer.

The only way to make sure chicken is safe to eat is by thoroughly cooking it. And this can’t be measured by simply looking at it. Use a thermometer to make sure you reach the required temperature for each type of meat. For chicken to be well cooked and free of bacteria it should reach 165 degrees. For beef, lamb and pork the required temperature is 145 degrees.

Raw Chicken

Source: The Washington Post