Should I Rinse Raw Chicken Before Cooking It?

Good Questions

Q: I keep seeing articles pop up that warn against rinsing raw poultry, as that actually spreads the bacteria instead of getting rid of it. And yet, every recipe I see for roasting or baking a whole chicken first instructs me to rinse the raw chicken and pat dry before cooking.

So, what's the verdict? Should I just skip the first step of all these recipes when they tell me to rinse the chicken?

Sent by Anna

Editor: Anna, this is a good example of where habit and tradition bump up against modern science and understanding of what actually spreads germs. While many people do indeed wash their chicken before cooking, and this at times has the appearance and feel of good practice (more washing is good, right??) it is indeed understood now that this spreads germs. It can splatter chicken juice throughout your sink and over your countertop, and it doesn't reduce any germs on the chicken itself.

Here's a fact sheet on this from the USDA:

Washing Food: Does it Promote Food Safety?

So yes, feel free to skip the washing of your chicken. Do pat it dry, though, if you are roasting it, since this promotes good browning and crispy skin.

Readers, any thoughts?


Related: Handling Raw Chicken: To Rinse or Not To Rinse?

(Image: Faith Durand)