Tag Archives: raw chicken

washing-raw-chicken

You Should Wash Your Chicken… Right?

As part of Food Safety Month, one thing most restauranteurs should do is to check that they are keeping up with food safety regulations and guidelines. Over the years, tradition has taught us to wash our chicken before cooking; the washing removes any and all bacteria that may accumulate during preparation, packaging, and more.

Yet, this may cause more trouble than help. The United States Department of Agriculture states that

Washing poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.

Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe. However, some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed. But there are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illness. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, and grilling) to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary.

Using a food thermometer is the only sure way of knowing if your food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria.

Why did we ever start washing chicken? Eatocracy attributes this erroneous concept to legendary celebrity chefs, such as Julia Child and James Beard.

Does you kitchen wash chicken? You may want to end the practice as it may just spread bacteria, or if anything, waste time on preparation. As the USDA states, all you need to do is cooking to the right temperature, which you can check with an appropriate food thermometer.

Beyond making sure your food is safe to eat, washing chicken can actually spread bacteria, according to Drexel University.

So, next time you’re cooking chicken in your kitchen, make sure to not wash it; just make sure you get to the right temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit at the lowest).