Why Do People Wash Chicken Before Cooking It?

by Charlie
Two raw chicken breasts

Have you ever heard of people washing chicken before they come to cook it? Many people do this, but is it actually a good idea, or should you avoid it? Good handling is key to ensuring that your meat is safe, so you need to know whether you should rinse meat before cooking it or not.

Why do people wash chicken before cooking it? You should not rinse chicken before you cook it. Doing so is sometimes said to remove the bacteria from the skin, but it will often result in the bacteria getting splashed around on your kitchen counters and the sink, which could increase your risk of contracting food poisoning in some situations.

Should You Wash Chicken Before You Cook It?

Raw chicken should not be washed before you cook it. This may help to remove some bacteria from the flesh, but it will wash it into the sink and may splash it onto the other foods that you are preparing.

The USDA does not recommend washing chicken before you cook it. Cooking will be sufficient to kill the bacteria, provided that you cook it to the correct temperature before you serve it. Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F; this will be sufficient to kill all bacteria in the flesh.

You may think that washing a piece of chicken wouldn’t spread the bacteria very far, but it has been shown that the droplets can spray as much as 50 centimeters in every direction, and this will result in cross contamination with other foods, so it should be avoided.

Even if only a few water droplets hit your counter or other foods, they can be dangerous. Food poisoning can be extremely unpleasant, and in some cases could result in hospitalization. Even in less serious cases, it can cause fevers, prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, and other symptoms, so you need to be careful to avoid it.

How Should You Prepare Chicken?

Because of the bacterial risk, you should be very careful about how you deal with chicken. You should have a chopping board dedicated to raw meat, and use a dedicated knife. Do not place vegetables or other foods on this board, and wash it well after use.

This will minimize the risk of bacteria getting spread throughout the kitchen, and reduces the potential for food poisoning. Make sure you also wash any utensils that you have used, along with counters that you have prepared the chicken on.

It’s also crucial to ensure that you cook the chicken properly. As long as the chicken is fresh and reaches the correct temperature so that it is cooked throughout, it will be safe to eat. The high temperature will kill any bacteria and ensure that the meat is safe to consume.

Some people use the color or texture of the meat to check whether it is cooked, but the safest and most reliable method is to use a high-quality meat thermometer. Although clear juice and the lack of pink meat do indicate that the chicken is cooked, it’s still best to use a proper meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked throughout.

Should You Use Soap to Wash Chicken?

If you are washing chicken, it’s best not to use detergent. It will not make the chicken safer, and may leave traces of detergent in the flesh. This will ruin the taste of the chicken and may make it unsafe to eat.

It’s best not to wash chicken, but if you do want to, make sure that you only use water to wash it in. You should also thoroughly clean the sink and nearby counters using hot, soapy water when you have finished washing the chicken.

You should then wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching any other food. Do this any time that you handle raw meat.

Why Do Some People Wash Chicken?

Although it is not recommended that you wash chicken, many people do. This is likely due to misinformation or force of habit. A lot of people believe that washing the chicken removes bacteria, so they wash it without realizing that it can cause problems.

If you know someone who washes their chicken before they cook it, it may be worth letting them know that this unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Point them to the USDA’s guidelines about cooking chicken properly to ensure that it is safe to eat.

Can You Wash Spoiled Chicken Before Cooking It?

If you realize that the chicken in your fridge is a little past its best, you may be wondering whether you can wash it in order to make it safe to consume again. However, you should not do this.

Once a piece of chicken has gone past the point of being safe to eat, you should not try to consume it under any circumstances, however you prepare it. Washing will not significantly reduce the number of bacteria in the chicken, even if it does remove some from the surface.

The bacteria will be spread throughout the chicken, and will make it unsafe to eat. You also cannot safely cook the chicken, because this bacteria will have spread toxins throughout the meat. Even if the bacteria are killed by the cooking process, these toxins can still make you sick if you consume them.

You can tell if the chicken is no longer safe to eat by the texture and the smell. If it has turned slimy or if it has a sour or unpleasant scent, you should not try to consume it. Similarly, if you can see any mold or discoloration on the flesh, it is unsafe to eat and it should be discarded. Washing will not make it safe again.

Final Thoughts

Washing chicken was a common practice for a while because it was believed that this helped to reduce bacteria in the meat. However, the USDA states that if chicken is properly heated, this will kill all bacteria without the need for washing, and that washing could increase the risk of food poisoning because it will spread bacteria from the raw meat around your kitchen.

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