Cooking raw chicken at home can be an intimidating task for many because of the potential risk of foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. The question of whether or not to wash raw poultry is one of much debate. In fact, influencers that share cooking videos online often have comment sections inundated with criticism about not washing the chicken before preparing it.
The answer is quite simple: Do not wash your raw chicken. Here’s why:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement that raw chicken is “ready to cook” and does not need to be washed.
Washing chicken is very likely to spread disease around the kitchen. In most cases, the germs that are on the chicken splash throughout the kitchen and the washer as water hits it, resulting in cross contamination. A study by the CDC found that even after cleaning their sink, 1 in 7 people still had germs in their sink.
Nowadays, chicken from the grocery stores comes pre-washed to remove any filth. Members of the older generation may be accustomed to having to wash their poultry due to different processing and manufacturing techniques. Modern day manufacturing cleans the chicken before it is packaged. However, if someone feels that it is absolutely necessary, wiping down the chicken with a paper towel is a safer alternative.
Perhaps the most important point of all: cooking the chicken to a proper internal temperature of 165°F will kill off any remnants of disease or foodborne illness. Washing chicken is therefore completely unnecessary and can cause more harm than good.
After preparing the chicken, wash down all surfaces and utensils that came into contact with the raw poultry.
For more information, the nutritional science departments at Drexel University and New Mexico State University have created a program with educational videos about cooking raw chicken titled “Don’t Wash Your Chicken”.