The Reason You Should NEVER Wash Chicken Before Cooking It

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1. America’s Most Popular Meat

In 2014, for the first time in 100 years, chicken became the most-eaten meat in the United States, finally beating out beef. Americans now consume over 100 pounds of chicken each year.

2. Danger Lurking

Chicken, however, can harbor a potentially fatal bacteria – salmonella. Each year, an estimated one million foodborne illnesses are caused by salmonella, which results in 19,000 people being hospitalized and 380 deaths.

3. Washing ≠ Clean

In an effort to get rid of this potentially deadly bacteria, many people wash their chicken. We wash our hands to prevent the spread of bacteria, so it’s a strategy that intuitively seems to sense. Except in this case, it’s incorrect.

4. Why Washing Doesn’t Work

Warm or cold water don’t kill salmonella bacteria, so washing your chicken won’t prevent you from getting sick.

5. Making Things Worse

Not only does washing your chicken not kill the salmonella, as this video demonstrates, when the water splashes, it has the potential to spread salmonella onto other surfaces.

6. Marinated = Contaminated

Some people marinate their chicken in an acidic wash (e.g. lime/lemon juice or vinegar). While this works for enhancing the flavor, it still won’t kill all the bacteria. The marinade should be treated as contaminated and should be discarded.

7. The Right Way To ‘Clean’ Chicken

The correct way to kill salmonella is with heat. Cooking your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 °F will get rid of salmonella.

8. Wash Your Hands

After you touch raw poultry, you should always wash your hands. The reason washing works for your hands but not the bird is that the bacteria that ends up on your hands, according to experts from Drexel University, is only a “tiny fraction of what’s found on the bird itself.” Soap and water washes it away.

9. Washing Surfaces

Any surface or utensil that has touched raw poultry should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the spread of bacteria. Like your hands, soap and water should be enough to eliminate the bacteria.

10. Don’t Spray Bacteria

Although 50% of people in a study washed their chicken when they went to prepare it, the next time you get the urge, remember – don’t. Even though it may feel counterintuitive, the cleanest method of preparing your chicken means not washing it at all.


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