Proper Handling of Poultry to Avoid Food Poisoning: The Unsuspected Danger of Washing Poultry
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently gathered experimental statistics on the perceived benefits of washing raw poultry before cooking and what they found is surprising.
Out of the participants who washed/rinsed their raw poultry, 60 percent of their sinks were found to be splattered with bacteria afterwards. Furthermore, even after cleaning their sinks, 14 percent of these were still found to have bacteria. Finally, 26 percent of these participants contaminated their fresh, ready-to-eat salads with this bacteria. The USDA did find, however, that those who wash their poultry are, by comparison, more likely to wash their hands thoroughly and make an effort to clean the affected surfaces.
By contrast, the study showed that participants who did not wash/rinse their raw poultry were also likely to contaminate other foods. At least still 31 percent of those people still spread bacteria from poultry to a prepared salad or vegetable. The USDA concluded, however, that this increase in contamination was caused by greater negligence vis-a-vis failed hand-washing and failure to properly clean surfaces compared to those who washed their poultry.
At teh end of the day, even with findings that seem to implicate everyone, the USDA states that since “raw chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria and sometimes with Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria” it is safer not to wash it. Washing can cause the opposite of its intended effect and instead, splatters bacteria in and around your kitchen sink.
Proper Handling of Poultry to Avoid Food Poisoning: How to Avoid Spread of Bacteria
What to take from the USDA’s observations? Abstain from washing your raw poultry. But just as important, here are the most effective ways to avoid the spread of bacteria and prevent food-borne illness:
- Prepare foods that are eaten raw (such as salads) first and place them in a separate space before dealing with poultry or other meats.
- Wash and sanitize all utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces which are used during the preparation of raw poultry using hot water, soup, or bleach. Wash hands diligently each time after handling poultry or any contaminated surfaces using hot water and soap for 20 seconds.
- Exercise precaution by testing meat using a meat thermometer and ensuring it reaches its minimum internal temperature standard:
Beef, pork, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops), 145°F
Ground meats (burgers), 160°F.
Poultry (whole or ground), 165°F