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Should I rinse meat?

I don't normally rinse meat before I cook but my friend suggested that I should. How many of you do?

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  1. I usually do - often there is some blood and I like to rinse the meat and then dry it very well with paper towels.

    1. I usually rinse whole chickens and any meat that has been vacuum packed for long periods of time - like lamb etc.

      However I would love to hear a more certain opinion on this one.


      8 Replies
      1. re: daily_unadventures

        Rinsing chicken and poultry is a bad idea. It spreads e-coli around your sink and the area around the sink.

        Occasionally, I will rinse red meat if I see visible bone particles from the saw but otherwise I do not.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          I was just talking about this with the guy at the meat counter at Whole Foods. I normally rinse my chicken, but he told me exactly what you're saying - I'm just upping the chances of food sickness. If you plan on cooking the chicken (don't know about meat) the normal amount (advised, obviously) then you probably shouldn't wash it. So from now on no washing of chicken for me.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            "...Rinsing chicken and poultry is a bad idea. It spreads e-coli around your sink..."

            If an item is contaminated in any way, would you not wish to rinse and leave the offence on the counter and sink rather than ingest the pathogens? There is more than just e-coli present on the surface.

            1. re: DockPotato

              The heat from proper cooking kills just about anything lurking on the surface. The point made above is that limiting contact with kitchen surfaces helps to prevent spreading the funk around.

              1. re: mojoeater

                Wow thanks for the info! No more poultry washing for me!


                1. re: mojoeater

                  wow, how about washing out your sink? It's something I do after I've rinsed my poultry.

              2. re: KTinNYC

                I thought you usually get salmonella from poultry and e-coli from from cow feces?

                I wash all my cuts of meat before cooking, let them sit in a colander (that gets sent through the dishwasher after every use) to dry while I prep other things. I usually don't like the dank smell of meat that has been sitting in it's own liquids for a few days in those styro trays or sealed bags.

                All my utensils, such as, cutting boards, knives(cheap Kiwis), tongs (I use these for handling meat quite a bit so I don't have to contaminate my hands), etc. gets sent through the dishwasher or gets washed by hand right away.

                I'm very big on NO cross-contamination. Meaning, prepping veggies first, meats last on cutting boards. I also own many multiples of my favorite tools. Knives, thongs, cutting boards, steel prep bowls, etc. So basically I have everything sorta "mise en place" before I start cooking.

                After handling all the raw meats I spray and wipe down all contaminated surfaces....sink, faucets, counters, cabinets, fridge handle, etc. I figure all the kitchen surfaces need a wipe down every few days anyhow. Keeps my kitchen sparkling.

                1. re: rilkeanheart

                  You are right. The most common pathogen from chickens would be salmonella not e-coli.

              1. I used to rinse chickens, but I recently saw a study report that indicated this INCREASES the possibility of food borne illness.

                I now rinse, and dry, only meats already imbued with icky liquids from inside their packaging. Other meats, and especially freshly cut meats, I leave alone.

                1. You only need to rinse meat if you are:
                  a) Going to grind hamburger meat yourself--E.coli, when on the outside of meat, is killed by cooking (heat) but if you grind it up, what was the outside is now the inside. E.coli comes from feces which can contaminate meat during slaughter, so it's really only a problem on the outside of raw meat and in ground meat (which is often not cooked enough in the center to kill the bacteria.)
                  b) have pieces of bone-in meat that were cut with a bonesaw and might have tiny particles of bone on them like oxtails, osso buco, etc.

                  Otherwise, cooking will kill any bacteria.

                  I also will usually rinse chickens inside and out just because they're often pretty wet and usually have some blood on them. You won't be spreading e.coli--which is an uncommon contaminant in chickens.

                  I usually rinse vacuum-packed meats too, since the "purge," or liquid released is pretty sticky, unsavory stuff.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Regan B

                    You cannot just rinse the E. Coli off if your meat is contaminated- both because of the nature of E. Coli (it clings) and the nature of muscle (lots of fibers to cling to). If you're concerned about contamination in ground meat you want to eat rare, sear it, then grind it.

                    1. re: Coconuts

                      there is also the concern that rinsing the meat splashes contamination around where it didn't exist prior.

                      you're also rinsing flavor down the drain.

                  2. I guess it all depends on a couple of factors regarding "spreading ecoli all over the sink".

                    1) How often do you clean your sink/kitchen with soap or sanitizer? I clean counter tops, sink, and stove before every meal preperation., and after rinsing a chicken in the sink. I also clean, and sanitize cutting boards, counter tops when appropriate during meal prep to avoid cross contamination.

                    2) How hard are you running the water when you are rinsing the chicken that you are spreading ecoli all over?

                    I only rinse off whole chickens, and chicken breasts( I dont use any other kind of chicken parts in my kitchen). I also like to rinse out the cavity of the whole chicken as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Depends on what kind of meat and how it's packaged. Vacuum packed and sitting in blood, definitely. From a butcher (trimmed) or a roast, usually not.

                      Re: chicken, if you're really paranoid but want to rinse it, you can prepare a simple brine of salt and lemon juice (basically low grade bleach) and drop it that. I'm not versed in kosher prep but I think this is partly why they brine chickens.

                      1. Let's remember where the "don't rinse the chicken" info actually came from. The USDA. They are adjusting the recommendations to the lowest common denominator. If Joe Blow in the middle of nowhere rips the plastic off a chicken, turns the water on full blast and throws the chicken around the sink and counter without care, you're going to get some cross contamination. As for me, I'm rinsing my chicken throughly without hesitation and with care. Oh, and I actually CLEAN the counters during and after cooking. That goes for beef, pork, lamb and fish - everything - as well. For bone-in meat there is almost always bone "dust" on the meat that has been left there by the saws. I'd rather not get bone chips in my food, thank you ;-)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: HaagenDazs

                          Well, I certainly wipe off any mess, scrape off the "bone dust", etc. Ditto anything on the chicken that I'd rather not have in my dinner. But dry meat comes out better generally. The stuff I get from good butchers is usually ready to cook. Those vacuum bags, as noted, are an exception. (And I do sanitize my counters.)

                          1. re: HaagenDazs

                            Wow, you clean your counters. What a whacky way to avoid contaminating other foods. :)

                            I rinse my chicken inside and out when I unwrap it. I often rinse beef cuts as well.

                          2. I usually do on some cuts of meat, but all-

                            1. i never rinse any meats. i've worked in countless professional kitchens and have never seen meat washed.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                agree- never rinse meat and any contamination in chicken will be killed by cooking- I usually keep the chicken in the wrapping from the store and avoid contact with the counter but wash hands and all surfaces with hot water and soap to be sure with poultry.

                              2. I do not rinse meat in general. The exception is if I have used a bit over the hill vaccume packed meat that is a bit slimy (I smell to be sure it is not gone bad), but that is rare. I do wash chicken parts because the 'sanitary bath' they have sat is is fairly contaminated. But I usually will buy a whole chicken and cut it up. In that case, I do rise the cavity, because I like to dig out the kidney parts that remain embeded into the back and it is most convenient to rinse the particles away with regular running water. If kidney parts remain, it will leach some bad tasting dark particles into your sauce, but I am so in the habit that I do it for any preparation method. If I rinse meat I take care to pat it dry with disposible paper towels.

                                I have also read summaries of the studies that show that washing meat spreads bacteria from the water splattering off the meat, so I try to limit the force of the water flow. I think these studies are mostly with chicken.

                                I am most surprised that people are concerned about getting E. coli from chicken. I have never heard of this happening, and I wonder if that occurs in another part of the country. I have only heard of E. coli from beef. Salmonella is what you are usually at risk for in chicken. Both of these can give you very nasty (and even life threatening) food borne illnesses, but I thought E. coli was much more potent and dangerous.

                                Both are killed by cooking to a certain temperature, and cooked and neutralized is better than live on your counter, I suppose.

                                1. my teacher told me not to rinse meats b/c you're rinsing the 'flavor' away. the bacteria will be killed if cooked to correct temperature.

                                  i personally rinse meats...just because...

                                  1. I'll rinse whole chickens (and other poultry) as a way to remind myself to remove the bag of organs.

                                    1. I have no idea why you'd rinse either meat or poultry unless there was some visible debris on it. What's the purpose of rinsing?

                                      1. My psuedo-MIL not only rinses all meat, she scrapes it as well. Meaning, she holds them under running water while running her knife over them lightly, accumulating a meaty-goo that she then rinses away. Is she just really anal about clean meat or does this serve some purpose I am unaware of?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: wawajb

                                          I wouldn't eat meat I thought was so compromised it needed to be scraped down before cooking .....

                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            It's not that the meat is in any way questionable...she does it with anything, regardlesss of freshness. I have no idea why...

                                          2. re: wawajb

                                            I'll scrape chicken to get rid of feathers and the scaly skin around the leg. But I agree with C.Hamster in that if the meat is questionable...

                                            1. re: wawajb

                                              A good butcher scraps the meat after saw cutting. It might just be on old habit from back in the day. My Dad use to do it all the time. I remember barbecueing with him, cleaning t-bones (instructed to scrape the meat) and then him yelling at me to clean the "nerve channel" (the funky stuff in the notch at the top of the T). I had no idea what he was talking about so he showed me. My Dad went to butcher school after college because jobs were tight after WWII with all the GIs on the job market. He never was a butcher but he always picked the meat at home.

                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                I swear it has never crossed my mind to rinse meat...although I have been known to rinse the INSIDE of poultry to remove any remaining organ pieces or other tissue if I plan to stuff it. Pat it dry, yeeeesss...rinse??? Whatever for? but then, I also have been known to unwrap, dry, and then replace a steak in the refrigerator for a day or so with only a loose waxed paper wrap.....(okay, waiting for the screams here)

                                            2. I rinse all poultry and pat it dry, but I do not rinse red meat or fish.

                                              1. I rinse the inside of poultry to get the "little bits" out, but I don't rinse anything else. I will pat red meat with a paper towel if there is excess blood.

                                                Now pork is different - I knew a butcher that told me I should scrape the chops, that have bones in them, with the side of a knife. You'd be surprised how much stuff comes off, like little, tiny, specks of bone, and excess fat. He said that when the butchers slices it in the machine, it leaves this bit of residue, and it will taste better, and season better if you get rid of this.

                                                1. I rinse chicken from the grocery store every time, and chicken from my butcher sometimes - depending on if it has been fresh wrapped for me or not. I've noticed that if I don't rinse it and it's been sitting wrapped for a while (invariably from the grocer, occasionally from the butcher) the skin doesn't cook up nicely, whereas if I rinse it off and then let it air dry in the fridge or pat it dry with a towel it cooks up very well.

                                                  I avoid cross contamination by using separate sinks for "dirty" and "clean" chores -- on sink is used for rinsing chicken, scaling fish, rinsing dirty dishes and "meaty" things before throwing them in the machine or handwashing them, etc --- the other is used for handwashing dishes, rinsing fruits, veggies, rice, etc, and both sinks are disinfected once weekly, as well as being left clean dry and empty every night. I also use separate cutting boards for meats and non-meats, and wash up my knives between cutting jobs, etc etc.

                                                  I don't rinse anything other then chicken, though I do frequently blot unmarinated things with a towel or let them air dry a little before I cook them -- dry things sear so much better then wet things.

                                                  1. Jfood has a Meat-Only Cutting Board, a nice fat Boos, with no fresh veggies ever on it. Then there are a couple of veggie cutting boards. Then I make sure no sponges in sight especially in the sink.

                                                    Meat - never rinse meat. Place on the meat board, season and onto a plate for the grill, oven or stove.

                                                    Chicken - depends. Breats never get rinsed. Thighs, i like to get the dark red stuff out of the spine. I pull it out and then rinse gently to clean the residue. Then onto the meat board, trim and season.

                                                    1. Notice to all Rinsers: You guys should all buy kosher meat - it's rinsed and soaked in salt water and then rinsed again. I had to eat it growing up and, believe you me, just as soon as I set-up my own kitchen, I bought regular meat from a regular butcher and cooked it while it was still fresh. Hurray - no more rinsed and soaked meat! The memory of my mother crying over the price she had to pay for a tasteless, first quality, cut of good beef in order to keep my dad happy is enough to keep me well away from the water tap.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: DrBehavior

                                                        Simply rinsing is different from soaking it in salt water.

                                                      2. Hey, what about everyday dirt? I don't know what's happened in the supermarket or butcher shop before that thing gets wrapped. If it falls on the floor, does anyone think it's getting carefully cleaned before it gets packaged? What about cross contamination there? What else has it touched before it goes into the butcher case or the nice antiseptic packages in the market?

                                                        On a chicken, there's usually stuff inside that needs to be rinsed off, and fat/feathers/etc. that need to be trimmed off outside. I'm not doing that without washing up anyway, so into the sink it goes.

                                                        Disinfectant's cheap.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: tomishungry

                                                          Hi - There's nothing at all wrong with a 'quick' rinse to get rid of whatever one perceives might have accumulated on the surface of the meat. Also, you're quite right about rinsing the giblets that have been sitting in the interior of the chicken; however, you'll notice that even they usually come frozen today and wrapped in an airtight package. Finally, insofar as I was concerned, it was just the extended soakings of perfectly good and very costly meat and poultry products that I was against.

                                                        2. Fascinating thread. My Polish boyfriend says his old-school mom used to rinse chicken breasts and pat them dry before cooking, but I only do it when it occurs to me, which is not often. I am usually moving through the kitchen at the speed of light anyway because I do all the cooking, whereas he gives the advice, and I don't have things like a dishwasher or microwave. Also, when he puts the dishes away, he hides things.
                                                          The upside of living this appliance-deprived lifestyle in France is that meat usually comes from the butcher. At an exorbitant price, but it's a wonderful thing to be the regular customer of a good butcher. I don't worry too much about bacteria. We're all pretty tough. Isn't it mainly dangerous for the very young and very old?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Amanita

                                                            Most common food illnesses like salmonella and E. Coli would make a regular healthy person queasy to say the least. But it is very dangerous for the young, old and weak; food poisoning could possibly kill them but it's uncommon.

                                                            I have a question my Asian parents would rub the chicken all over with table salt and then rinse it off. Does anyone know anything about this or is it just some crazy thing?

                                                          2. I always rinse my meat cuts before I cook them and I will continue to do so. I don't trust that the butcher or the grocery store is always clean in what they do, so if that means giving the meat an extra rinse then I will. If some water happens to splash around while I'm rinsing it, then I make sure that I clean it up with hot water and soap. And, like someone mentioned, there are bone particles and other loose thing on the meat that I would rather wash off now than bite into later. If you clean up after yourself properly, then there is no need to worry about contamination.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: kbugabooj

                                                              if the meat is properly cooked, contaminants are killed, so rinsing isn't needed.

                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                AMEN. If your meat has debris on it, buy it somewhere else

                                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                  You're missing the point.

                                                                  Rinsing the meat is not about rinsing away all traces of contaminants. It's raw meat. The whole thing is contaminated. It's about the fact that meat, no matter where you get it from, has been sitting in juices or has bone chips from where it was butchered, etc. Personally, I'd rather not eat all that. So, I will continue to rinse.

                                                                  As far as rinsing spreading germs, I bet you come into contact with just as many or more germs when you go out into the world everyday.

                                                                  Like many others have already stated, clean up after yourself and you'll be fine.

                                                                  1. re: kbugabooj

                                                                    "The whole thing is contaminated"


                                                                    why on earth would you think that tap water would kill whatever is in/on your meat?

                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                      You obviously didn't comprehend my post. No where did I state that tap water killed germs. It's simply about rinsing away the outer gunk.

                                                                      1. re: kbugabooj

                                                                        i bought goat once from a local butcher and it was filled with bits of bone. i never went back because obviously the guy had no idea how to use the bandsaw. this has happened once in many years of buying meat.

                                                                        as for "gunk"? i pat the meat dry. that's it.


                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                          I will continue to do what I think is best for me, as should you.


                                                            2. I rinse poultry only. Since I would not rinse ground beef, I don't rinse steak. I keep black tweezers specifically for poultry to remove feathers & quills. Washing required after operation. I don't see logic in washing to remove salmonella. All poultry must be considered infested, and cleanup afterward essential. Whether salmonella is in one spot on chicken or spread all over makes no difference. I cannot see it. All surfaces must be cleaned thoroughly. Thorough cooking only salmonella remedy, not "absence of washing". Whether folks wash bird or not is personal preference. Concept of spreading salmonella by washing as "No, No" does not compute. Eat salmonella chicken & it makes no difference whether in one spot or all over - you will be just as sick. Thoroughly cook whether wash or not!

                                                              Tabacco (Truth About Business And Congressional Crimes Organization)

                                                              1. I used to be obsessive about washing meat before cooking or freezing .... until I read that washing the meat only spreads germs in your sink, countertop and any other surface that the meat comes in contact with. So, being that I am a germ a phobe I don't do that anymore.
                                                                Also, cooking the meat to the correct doneness kills bacteria so there is really no need to wash meat prior to cooking.
                                                                I still do rinse it off though. Old habits die hard! :)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: awparadoxx86

                                                                  Everything you do in the kitchen spreads germs. I rinse and dry chicken and other meat that's been plastic wrapped. I also bleach out my sink, counters and sink drain afterward.

                                                                2. Okay, I admit, I rinse poultry, and it's something I HATE doing, but for some reason I can't get myself to not do this, even though lots of people say its unnecessary. I feel like I was always taught to rinse poultry, so when I first started cooking I did, and now I just can't stop despite being told of the contrary.

                                                                  1. Funny, this piece just posted on NPR a few days ago addressing this very topic. It's titled "Julia Child Was Wrong: Don't Wash Your Chickens, Folks".

                                                                    "There's no reason, from a scientific point of view, to think you're making it any safer," she says, "and in fact, you're making it less safe." -Jennifer Quinlan, Drexel University Food Safety Researcher

                                                                    Here's a link to the full article:


                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                                                      AND apparently the NPR article caused such a "chicken shitstorm" she had to write another piece answering a bunch of questions from reader/listeners. Here's that:


                                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                                        as she mentions, thus admonition to NOT wash is not new and has been common practice in commercial kitchens for decades.

                                                                        the insistence by home cooks to disregard this advice is fascinating.

                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                          Why? It's just a personal difference based on comfort levels, if not food science.

                                                                          I don't get why anyone cares what anyone else does about it.

                                                                    2. It's always a good rule to rinse meat, you never know who handled it, and it what conditions. If you are worried about the meat getting soaked, use paper towels to pat down the excess water.

                                                                      1. There are as many different suggestions as there are number of commentators. I would like to add to the suggestions: I keep a bottle of bleach water in a spray bottle that is labeled "bleach water." I put one capful of bleach into a one-quart spray bottle. Also, don't wait until the bottle is empty to make up more bleach water. It gets stagnant. Make a fresh bottle of bleach water either every day or no later than on the 3rd day of having been made. I spray my faucet and its handles, I spray the sink thoroughly, and I spray the counters. When I am done with all my prep work, I scour the sink and faucet with a scouring cleanser that has bleach in it. I have done it this way for over 40 years and no one ever has gotten sick from my cooking. God bless!