Warning: Don’t Wash Chicken!

by Anne Bennett on July 26, 2010

I remember once watching a TV show with Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. The two old friends were comparing their methods for roasting chicken and they got into a friendly argument over whether it was necessary to wash the bird. Julia insisted that it must be done, but Jacques said it was unnecessary, that cooking it properly got rid of the germs. Turns out he was right.

Common Kitchen Mistake*

New research shows that washing raw poultry actually increases the risk of food poisoning because of the likelihood that in washing the flesh you’re spreading bacteria in a radius of up to 3 feet.

According to the experts, properly cooking chicken gets rid of any germs that cause food poisoning. Washing chicken in tap water only sprinkles germs around your kitchen and increases your chances of ingesting them.

By the way, most people think that salmonella is the big problem, but it’s not. It’s a bacteria called campylobacter, the most common cause of poultry food poisoning that causes diarrhea and stomach cramps.

The study stated that three-quarters of us are chicken washers, proof that might doesn’t necessarily make right, and that our mothers didn’t know everything. (Don’t worry, Mom, no matter what they say I’m still putting the avocado pit into the guacamole to keep it from turning brown.)

(*OK, so we ARE talking about dead, raw chicken here, not live birds as pictured. At least in terms of visuals, I believe that live trumps dead any day.)

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