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Meat washing-quick survey

Everyone probably washes a whole chicken before cooking, right?

Who washes steaks or chops before cooking?

What about chicken parts?

I was surprised when a friend washed a steak before cooking once, so I'm curious.

I mostly only wash whole chickens before cooking.

And I'm talking about if you dropped it on the floor!

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  1. Only whole chickens, never chicken pieces...not sure why and it would ever occur to me to wash steak. Wonder if your same friend washes ground beef as that is supposed to be the dirty stuff. I have even been guilty on occasion of using the same tongs to turn un-cooked chicken and to remove cooked chicken, after I am always thinking, "Probably should have used another pair of tongs" but never gotten sick!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bubbles4me

      Wash whole and chicken parts with skin but not boneless parts. Never wash any other meat.

    2. I've always washed any meat before cooking. I have no idea what touched the meat before it was wrapped in cellophane. Often pieces with bone will have dust from the bandsaw on them. I also wash eggs before using them. On occasion, I rinse chicken with vinaigre. I can't imagine cooking anything without washing it first.

      1. I do wash whole chickens, a cold water rinse with some help from a hand inside the bird, to remove the entrail residue that the processing plants don't every seem to entirely remove. I wash other meats only if I see something (like bone residue) that I believe needs to be removed. I understand that if it's been in contact with anything that might have contaminated it during processing that it's already deep in the fiber of the meat and only radiation (heat or other source) will kill those bacteria; washing will not remove it. No amount of surface washing will eliminate that degree of threat. With respect to meat that has not been ground, most bacteria occurs naturally only on the meat surface. The heat applied in the cooking process is generally enough to kill any surface bacteria and, if the meat is cooked to an internal temperature recommended by USDA, the heat conducted through the meat in the cooking process is enough to make me feel comfortable about serving it. Of course, if I were a tartar lover, it might be a different story.
        With ground meat it is, in my kitchen, much the same story. I depend on conduction to render any bacteria that might be in the product harmless through conduction that achieves USDA recommended temperatures.

        1. The people who work in the meat dept at my local stores recommend always washing the meat and that includes pork, beef and chicken.

          4 Replies
          1. re: dimsumgirl

            My first job was working in the meat department at a local grocery store. As a result, I ALWAYS rinse meat before cooking - chicken parts, steaks, chops, etc.

            1. re: Rubee

              Count me in as a rinser. Along with the things rubee rinses, I also rinse fish.

            2. i dont wash chicken. read somewhere that no difference in taste when you wash or dont. plus if you cook it the heat will kill off any contaminants. with meat, i wash the lamb/goat meat i buy from the butcher and then freeze. dont wash ground either unless defrosting the bag in water. after reading the posts wonder if i should change my practices.

              1. I rinse off poultry before using, whole birds, or parts.

                I never let water touch the prime beef I buy

                I rinse off pork roasts, and ribs with white vinegar before marinating, or applying a rub.

                1. I don't wash alot of meat because I worry about cross contamination from washing the meat and having the rinsing water splatter about in my sink, area. It seems like no matter how much I wash that area ,I still worry that meatwater or meatjuice splattered somewhere that I missed.I give it a rubdown instead with a wet paper towel.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kimeats

                    I "usually" give everything, with the exception of ground meat, a quick rinse. Nothing fancy, just under the faucet, pat dry with papertowel.

                    1. re: kimeats

                      The experts agree that you will kill off any surface bacteria with cooking so washing only serves to spread the germs to other areas. I don't wash chicken unless I'm washing off surface debris. I do wash the surface of a roast prior to grinding. I eat burgers medium to medium rare so grind my own meat. Washing will not disenfect, no question about that but it has to decrease the population at least a little. I have done a light soak in a mild vinegar solution when grinding meat to eat raw.

                    2. I don't wash any meat. I wash shrimp if I have peeled and deveined before cooking to rinse any oddball shell or vein away.

                      1. I wash all meat and fish except for ground meat. But - I wash frozen ground meat patties.

                        1. Always washed whole poultry and poultry parts, with or without skin and/or bones. Just recently started rinsing other kinds of meat after noticing some recipes with that directive.
                          (That goes for seafood too.)

                          1. Chicken, capon and other poultry is a ritual; especially the gizzards and hearts. I buy huge amounts of white vinegar for this reason. Use it to wash the poultry and then after washing my sink, use the white vinegar to wash down my sink and surrounding area. I have just begun washing other meats as well, but can't bring myself to wash ground meats.

                            1. Whole chickens only get a cold rinse. Once in a great while I will rinse off chicken parts but then you have to dry w/ paper towels and then dispose of them and it's all such a pain in the ass, not to mention wasteful, messy and time-consuming.
                              The drier the chicken skin the crispier it gets, so I don't wanna mess that up.

                              Now, for those of you who "wash", are you using soap? When I hear the term "wash" I think soap. A cold rinse isn't going to remove bacteria, if that's your concern.

                              I do suds up my apples and peaches before I or my kids eat them. That's b/c slimy-nosed germy kids man-handle them in the grocery store. ;-)

                              1. i'm also curious as to what the washing consists of, and is aiming to accomplish. the odd bone fragment, i guess is a possibility. but if cold water is being used to rinse the meat, i can't grasp what else that is effectively eliminating? as other posters have suggested, it seems like all that would do is give you a potentially germy sink to deal with, without killing any salmonella, e. coli, etc. that might be present on the meat, and killed in the cooking process.
                                it's really interesting to me that some cooks rinse (or wash) nearly everything, and i wonder--do you do what your mother did? is it cultural or regional? i'd love to see a survey done of meat washing habits!
                                me? not a rinser.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chez cherie

                                  Count me curious as well. What's up with all the washing? Presumably cooking will kill the bad bacteria, which are surface dwellers, thus exposed to the heat. The real suspicious meat is ground meat, just because it has so much surface area. If anyone washes that, I will really be surprised.

                                  1. re: EdwardAdams

                                    Oh, I actually know somebody who washes ground meat. She says she'll wash the outside but also try to get the water on the insides as well. I'm still kind of perplexed as to how she does it, and I haven't tasted any of her ground meat dishes.

                                2. I don't "wash" or rinse chicken or meat, with the exception of whole birds.

                                  What's the point?

                                  1. Any cut meat with bone gets rinsed. Purpose is to rinse off bone dust.
                                    Meats that have pooled blood in the package get rinsed. Purpose is to remove blood pools.
                                    Never rinse any ground meat.

                                    In Korea in past times and still in some rural or open markets, many meat cuts were/are cut fresh and hung in the open air. Whole animal was/is also hung and your desired portion cut from the carcass when you order it. Korean cooks would rinse every cut of meat before cooking.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: hannaone

                                      I am a rinser. LOL.

                                      I rinse poultry well, inside in out. I don't buy partial birds, unless it's one heck of a sale. I probably have six chickens in my freezer right now...and yes, only half of them are organic.

                                      We buy beef/pork/lamb and possibly goat in the future in bulk, I have a WHOLE beef being cut as we speak. I defrost ahead of time, and it's butcher wrapped in paper, and not plastic, but a different kind of paper...can't remember the word of the top of my head. Parchment.

                                      So I rinse off excess blood from the defrosting, and any bone dust/fragments. Because I let my meat come up to room temp before cooking, and I normally do a spice rub, I rarely pat my meat dry.

                                      Sometimes I'm not as good as planning as I think, or a friend calls us up last minute and I don't eat the meat I defrosted that day...If there is a mild odor in the blood, and you rinse WELL, you might find it's not the meat that smells, just the defrosted blood. Than again, all my meat is frozen within a week of slaughter.

                                      Sorry to mention smelly blood..it sounds kinda gross.

                                    2. Here's some interesting, if unvalidated, information:


                                      1. I rinse whole chicken and chicken parts and then pat dry with a paper towel, not because of any bacteria but to get the gunk off the out and insides and pull any pinfeathers that might remain. The vast majority of our red meat is from deer and caribou which we butcher ourselves. After we skin it out I wipe it down liberally with white vinegar because for some reason the vinegar will pick the hair off the carcass and water won't. That's followed with a wiping down with a water dampened cloth. I never wash red meat or pork but I do wipe it down with a damp cloth again before prepping it because it gives me the chance to do a quick inspection and remove any foreign matter I may have missed the first time.