Why You Shouldn’t Wash Raw Chicken

updated May 2, 2019
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Do you wash your raw chicken? This is a common practice encouraged by cookbook authors from Alton Brown to Michael Ruhlman to the great Julia Child herself. Their recipes, among others, often call for rinsing the chicken with water before cooking it. That would lead you to believe you should follow their advice, right? Well, actually, washing raw chicken isn’t all its cracked up to be. In fact, it’s actually more dangerous, food safety-wise, to wash it than to not wash it. Here’s some eye-opening proof.

You may never look at raw chicken the same way again after watching this all-too-horrifying Germ-Vision video from a health researcher at Drexel University. Rinsing raw chicken may remove some bacteria on the meat itself, but that bacteria can be transferred to your sink, countertops, clothes, and other surfaces in the process. You might not think that you splash everywhere when working in the sink, but even microscopic droplets of water (and hence, germs) can make their way around your workspace.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We found this video in an article at Slate, where they quote Jennifer Quinlan, the researcher heading up the project, as saying, “There’s no reason, from a scientific point of view, to think you’re making it any safer, and in fact, you’re making it less safe.” The USDA agrees: They don’t recommend washing chicken, or any raw meat for that matter, reinforcing the argument that bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other surfaces, utensils, and even foods, leading to cross-contamination. The only way to safely kill bacteria in chicken is to cook it, not wash it.

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(Video: Don’t Wash Your Chicken! from Drexel University)