An overwhelming 90% of people wash raw chicken before cooking it. This is why you should not do it.

Why not wash raw chicken before cooking?

Raw chicken contains harmful bacteria, in particular Campylobacter and Salmonella, two of the main culprits of many food poisoning. So it seems to make sense to wash raw chicken before you cook it, right? Incorrect.

Washing the raw chicken before cooking actually contributes to the spread of harmful bacteria that are on the surface of the meat to other places such as the sink or countertop. Jennifer Quinlan, a researcher at the University of Drexel (Philadelphia, USA), participated in a research project funded by the US Department of Agriculture on the same subject. Quinlan said his research shows that as many as 90 percent of people in his survey said they washed their raw birds, especially since many recipes require people to rinse their meat and then dry it. Quinlan stated:

You’re not getting rid of bacteria; washing does not kill bacteria. However, there is a high possibility that such bacteria will be sprayed by what is known as aerosolization.

What to do instead?

In fact, the US Department of Agriculture launched the Food Safe Families campaign which emphasizes that people have to follow the following steps:

  1. Clean.
  2. Wash hands and surfaces frequently.
  3. Pull apart.
  4. Do not let raw chicken or their juices touch other foods.
  5. Cook.
  6. Cook the chicken to the appropriate minimum internal temperature of 73ºC, measuring it with a food thermometer.
  7. Cool.
  8. Put the poultry in the refrigerator quickly.

Drexel University also launched a similar campaign called Do not Wash Your Chicken. It also aims to break this bad habit in the kitchen, and for good reasons. Eating food contaminated with these two strains of bacteria can make a person sick. Sometimes even seriously.

Symptoms of bacteria presence

People who eat food contaminated with salmonella almost always get diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, lightheadedness, vomiting and nausea. Most people sick from salmonella recover within a few days, but others can develop more severe cases that can lead to death.

Campylobacter also causes diarrhea in people who eat food contaminated with it. However, this bacteria can make people sick for up to 10 days and can cause extreme abdominal pain. There have been reports of some long-term effects of exposure to Campylobacter, including arthritis and Guillan-Barre syndrome, which causes muscle weakness and affects the nervous system.

The side effects of washing raw chicken are not only not worth it, but Quinlan adds:

Some think they are cleaning the germs. Some just want to stop feeling like they are dirty. There are several reasons, and among them they just feel they should do it … “Another food safety tip to remember. Be sure to keep the cooked chicken in a closed container in a refrigerator or else it may become contaminated if it is in the outside too long.

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