Why you shouldn’t wash chicken before cooking

Melbourne: If you wash your chicken before you cook it, think again.

Washing chicken puts you at a higher risk of getting food poisoning, spreads bacteria around the kitchen, a study has revealed.

“Home cooks are probably following what their parents or grandparents did in the past by washing poultry, not to mention probably patting it dry with a tea towel,” Food Safety Information Council Chairman, Dr Michael Eyles, said.

“But washing poultry splashes these bacteria around the kitchen cross contaminating sinks, taps, your hands, utensils, chopping boards and foods that aren’t going to be cooked like salads or desserts,” he said.

The Newspoll survey also found that the washing phenomenon isn’t just restricted to chicken. 68 percent of respondents wash turkey and 74 percent wash duck before cooking, News.com.au reported.

Doctors believe this could be one of the reasons why notified cases of illness from Campylobacter and Salmonella - bacterias associated with food poisoning - have almost doubled over the last 20 years in Australia.

But the zealousness of trying to rid chicken of bacteria isn’t entirely unfounded.

According to the survey, 84 percent of raw chicken carcasses tested positive to Campylobacter, and 22 percent to Salmonella. This is similar to the findings of other surveys overseas.

However, all you really need to do to make sure you don’t get sick from your chicken is cook it: “Cooking poultry right through kills these bacteria, making it safe,” Dr Eyles insists.

To reduce the risk of getting sick from poultry, one is advised to not wash raw poultry before cooking as this will spread any bacteria throughout your kitchen. Instead, mop up any excess moisture with a paper towel.

Always wash and dry hands and clean surfaces after contact with raw poultry.

Be careful not to let raw poultry juices contaminate other foods, especially things like desserts or salads, which won’t be cooked again.

You are also advised to use clean plates and utensils, and wash and dry thoroughly between using for raw and cooked poultry.

Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw poultry.

Cook any poultry meat to 75°C and use a meat thermometer to check if juices run clear and are no longer pink rather than popping a piece in your mouth.

Make sure frozen poultry is defrosted right through to the centre in the fridge or microwave in a sealed container before cooking.


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