It may seem counter-intuitive, but washing your raw chicken before you cook it is not better for your health, according to the U.K’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The bacteria campylobacter, which is found on raw chicken, is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in the United States and one of the most common causes of food poisoning in Britain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FSA respectively.
Washing your chicken before cooking can spread campylobacter and other bacteria, with hands, work surfaces, clothing, and cooking equipment possibly becoming contaminated by splashing water droplets.
Last year, Consumer Reports found antibiotic-resistant “superbug” bacteria on about half of the over 300 raw chicken samples bought in American grocery stores. Researchers reported. in fact, that almost none of the chickens sampled in the analysis were completely bacteria-free, and many had fecal contaminants, which cause blood and urinary-tract infections among other things. Definitely not what you want hanging out in your kitchen.
Thoroughly cooking chicken will kill any bacteria on it.
Two tips for safe chicken-handling from the FSA are:
1. Cut through the thickest part of the meat to check that it’s steaming-hot without any pink color, and check that the meat juice is running clear before serving.
2. Store raw chicken well-covered and at the bottom of the fridge to avoid potentially contaminated meat juice dripping onto other foods and surfaces.
Disinfecting your kitchen after handling any raw meat is also a good idea.
How Common Is Washing Chicken?
According to a statement by the FSA, around 44 percent of British wash their chicken before cooking it, mostly to make it cleaner or because that is the tradition in their family.
“The top reasons they gave for doing so were to remove dirt (36 percent), to get rid of germs (36 percent), because they have always done so (33 percent), and because a parent or close relative washed chicken (32 percent),” the FSA said in an email.