Those who regularly cook at home have long become accustomed to washing raw chicken before cooking it.
It’s no surprise that this is so commonly done since countless cookbooks and celebrity chefs have recommended it in years past.
We rinse the chicken, pat it dry, and then proceed with the meal preparation process.
It’s only in more recent years that the debate over whether washing chicken is a good or bad kitchen practice has become exceptionally heated.
The realization that the practice of pre-washing chicken meat could do more harm than good only began to spread in the 90’s or 2000’s.
Now, many experts, including those knowledgeable on germs, public health officials, and professional chefs worldwide are revealing the truth behind this practice.
Many believe that giving raw chicken a rinse helps kill off bacteria, but the negative effects far outweigh any positives in this case.
Rinsing raw meat actually makes the chances of potentially harmful or dangerous pathogens spreading increase severely.
Washing doesn’t destroy the pathogens, instead only boosting their chances of contaminating your kitchen surfaces or even other foods.
Some individuals opt to switch out washing with cool sink water to hot water, chlorine, or even vinegar, but these don’t actually change what happens and they still cause pathogens to have a better chance of spreading.
If you really do want to kill bacteria before cooking, you’ll want to brine your raw chicken – but only if you do so safely and cook immediately after.
Still, your best bet is to simply cook chicken directly at the required temperatures; high heat effectively kills bad bacteria.
Cross-contamination from the pathogens in raw chicken can lead to illnesses such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, and they spread through washing this raw meat.
A mere 500 cells of Campylobacter, which is a very small amount, can lead to week-long diarrhea. In the United Kingdom, 4 out of 5 Campylobacter cases come from raw chicken.
Thankfully, most people who contract it make a full recovery but it can lead to more serious health complications in certain cases.
Meanwhile, Salmonella is a potentially fatal illness to contract and causes hundreds of deaths annually.
It’s the cause of one of the two most common foodborne illnesses found worldwide.
Cases of Salmonella have actually increased across the European Union and the United Kingdom as of the beginning of this year.
Unfortunately, with so many years of “programming” that washing poultry meat before cooking is okay and safer than omitting the step altogether, many people still insist on washing raw chicken.
Even those who have been made aware of the dangers continue to perform this act out of habit or for a false sense of security.
That’s why raising awareness on this issue is vital to public health.
Although washing chicken has been a staple part of many recipe steps and routines over the past several decades, it’s important to keep an eye on new research which has shown that this is actually much more dangerous than helpful.