If you’re not a chef or a trained professional, cooking raw meat is probably one of the most common causes of questions. One big one is, do you rinse raw chicken before cooking? Or is that considered a big no-no?
According to a poll conducted by BuzzFeed, 36 percent of 102,000 voters said they wash raw chicken, while 64 percent said no. It’s safe to say chicken lovers are confused. So what exactly is the right routine for chicken?
According to USDA spokesperson Marianne H. Gravely, the department “falls squarely in the ‘don’t wash your chicken’ camp.” In short, avoid washing raw poultry or any other meat, because this can spread potential bacteria from the raw food’s juices to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.
In fact, washing the chicken doesn’t remove the bacteria. While you may think washing it cleans it, “some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed it,” Gravely explained to BuzzFeed. Fortunately, the best way to kill the bacteria present is to cook the food. Be sure to use a food thermometer to make sure the meat is fully cooked by reaching a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Washing chicken does not remove any pathogens,” said Kelly Reynolds, associate professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona.
Reynolds agreed with the USDA rep and added that poultry splatter can also contaminate your hands, elbows, and sink, as studies have shown that it contains bad germs. “We’ve done studies on packaged chicken from a wide variety of grocery stores, and more than half of the chicken we looked at tested positive for some pathogen,” said Reynolds.
While health professionals recommend steering clear of washing your chicken, do chefs agree? Yes, they certainly do! According to Chef Antoine Westermann from NYC’s Le Coq Rico, “in France, we do not believe in washing chicken with water, as it takes away the taste of the skin. When you are cooking the chicken, the bacteria is cooked out.”
So next time you’re thinking of cooking chicken for dinner, do yourself a favor and avoid giving the raw chicken a bath before setting it to fully cook.