The danger of washing raw meat

A new public health awareness campaign urges cooks not to rinse off chicken before cooking it.

Chicken on kitchen counter

A new public health campaign is opposing previous culinary advice from famed chefs such as Martha Stewart, Alton Brown and Julia Child. Simply stated: Don’t wash your chicken.

Researchers at Drexel University and New Mexico State University are promoting “Don’t Wash Your Chicken!” The goal of the campaign is to dissuade people from rinsing chicken before they cook it.

At the center of the campaign is a 14-second animated video that depicts germs as a green goo, which splatters on the person, into the sink and around the kitchen when the chicken is washed. Washing raw chicken spreads germs like salmonella and Campylobacter up to 3 feet away and could be responsible for the approximately 1.9 million cases of food-borne illness in the U.S. each year.

Many people wash their birds, thinking it rinses off the germs, but studies say the best way to do that is to cook the chicken.

“There’s no reason, from a scientific point of view, to think you’re making it any safer,” explains Drexel food safety researcher Jennifer Quinlan, “and in fact, you’re making it less safe.”

Instead of giving chicken — or other poultry — a rinse-off, put it directly into the cooking pan after you unwrap it. Then clean your hands with hot water and soap. Then put the chicken directly into the oven.

Safety first!

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