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USDA suggests consumers not wash chicken before cooking

BY SHELBIE GOULDING shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 8/23/19

A recent study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with RIT International and North Carolina State University, revealed that individuals are putting themselves at risk of illness when washing or rinsing raw …

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USDA suggests consumers not wash chicken before cooking

Posted

A recent study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with RIT International and North Carolina State University, revealed that individuals are putting themselves at risk of illness when washing or rinsing raw poultry.

The study observed participants while they prepared a meal with chicken and salad.

"It was meant to determine whether the participants were washing the chicken, and also to see how far the cross contamination will go in the kitchen, and if the participants were following the food safety steps while they were preparing that meal," said Janice Lopez-Munoz, public affairs specialist at Food Safety Education Staff.

The results showed how easily bacteria can be spread when surfaces are not properly cleaned and sanitized.

Of the participants who washed their raw poultry, 60% had bacteria in their sink after washing or rinsing the poultry. 14% still had bacteria in their sinks after they attempted to clean the sink.

"We found that 26% of the salads were contaminated by the participants who washed the chicken," said Lopez-Munoz. She said 75% of the time people didn't wash their hands either, and not washing hands at all or properly plays a big role in cross contamination.

"Our message is to not wash the chicken because this can spread more cross contamination in the kitchen," she said. "Through utensils, ready-to-eat food and your hands. If you wash or rinse the chicken, you're not doing any safety steps. You're increasing the risk of cross contamination, and you're not killing any bacteria there. The only way to do it is cooking meat to the right temperature."

The USDA internal temperature recommendation to cook poultry (whole or ground) is 165 F. Ground meats should be cooked at 160 F. Beef, pork, lamb and veal should be cooked at 145 F., all measured by a food thermometer.

Lopez-Munoz said it's important to use a food thermometer to make sure the meat reaches the proper cooking level and to eliminate bacteria.

The USDA recommends three easy ways to help prevent illness when preparing raw poultry or meat at home.

1. Decrease your risk by preparing foods that will not be cooked, such as vegetables and salads, before handling and preparing raw meat and poultry.

2. Thoroughly clean and sanitize any surface that has possibly touched or been contaminated from raw meat or its juices.

3. Destroy any illness-causing bacteria by cooking meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer.

Also, remember to hand wash. Not properly washing hands for 20 seconds right after handling raw foods is dangerous in spreading bacteria.