Health experts warn against washing raw chicken

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Washing chicken is playing chicken with your health. It may sound like a joke, but the Center for Disease Control says it continues to be a problem.

You may think rinsing raw chicken before cooking is a safe way to get rid of contamination, but Kasia Smith-Alexander of the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department says research shows otherwise.

“Over the years we tell people to wash their vegetables, wash their fruit, and people just decided to start washing their meat as well,” said Smith-Alexander.

She says washing your chicken won’t get rid of foodborne illness causing bacteria.

“There really is no need to wash meats anymore,” said Smith-Alexander. “The USDA is doing a wonderful job inspecting those facilities, so there isn’t a need.” 

The CDC warns washing raw chicken in your kitchen sink increases the chances of spreading bacteria. Studies using “black light” reveals a dirty little secret. After washing chicken, the surfaces around the sink where water splashed during the wash are contaminated, and if you’ve got food sitting nearby, it’s suspect too.

“Sometimes things splatter on the floor, you walk around the house, you could be spreading salmonella campylobacter,” said Smith-Alexander.

In fact, the only way to truly get rid of bacteria is to use a cooking thermometer. Cook your chicken to 165 internal degrees to clean your meat the way washing can’t. If you still feel the need to wash your meat, thoroughly wash down your sink and surrounding counter tops with soap and water.

“And use a little bleach to clean the surfaces that might have been contaminated,” said Smith-Alexander.

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