Do you wash chicken off in the sink before you cook it? If you do, you’re not alone. Almost half of all the people who cook poultry (chicken or turkey) rinse it before they cook it. Turns out, that isn’t such a great idea.
Some people think that by rinsing chicken or turkey under running water before they cook it, they are removing any bacteria that might be present. Actually, all you’re doing is spreading that bacteria around. The bacteria are carried in the water that runs and splashes off the chicken. Bacteria can even be carried in very small drops of water, so small that you can’t see the drops. Rinsing chicken in your sink can result in bacterial contamination of the sink, counter, floor, and any raw foods near by. Watch this animation with GermVision for a demonstration.
A lot of the comments on that video have said that all you need to do is turn the strength of the water down to avoid the splashing. Unfortunately, that’s not true. While turning down the strength of the water will minimize the splashing that you can see, there is still plenty of splashing that you can’t see. And even that tiny amount of splashing can spread bacteria all over your kitchen.
Imagine that you’re getting ready to prepare a salad on the counter next to your sink, and the bacteria from the chicken splashes onto the cutting board. You put some vegetables on the cutting board, and now they have the bacteria on them. You use a knife to cut the veggies, and now the bacteria is on the knife. You put the knife down on the counter and the veggies into a bowl. Now the bacteria are on the counter and in your bowl. The bowl goes to the kitchen table, and takes the bacteria with it. Since you haven’t cooked the salad, your family eats the bacteria when they eat their salad.
This type of low-level bacterial contamination isn’t likely to cause a problem for most people. As with any other illness, people who are very young, very old, pregnant, have another disease, or are immunocompromised are very sensitive to these bacteria.
When you cook your chicken or turkey to a temperature of 160 degrees, you are killing the bacteria. You still need to practice good food handling, storage, and preparation techniques to prevent the risk of cross-contamination in your kitchen.
Visit Don’t Wash Your Chicken for more information!
Do you wash chicken before you cook it? Leave a comment below to tell me if you do, and why!