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Jul 25, 2010 12:28 PM

Washig chicken increases food poisoning risk--thoughts?

Having been raised in America, I was taught to always rinse chicken, whole or parts. This, not just by my mom and grandmother, but also from meat department clerks and butchers. Now this: Having read it first on David Lebovitz' facebook page, I can't say I'm surprised by this bit of news. But, I always thought the risk of food borne illness was the reason to rinse. The article seems to be indicating that it's more people's method that causes the risk--drips on counters, etc. So, I'm going to give the no rinse rule a go.

What do you do, and what were you taught? If you were taught to rinse, did you learn later it wasn't necessary? Where did you learn otherwise?

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  1. Splattering chicken spew all over your sink, counters, dish towels, self, dish cloths/sponges and collateral cookware is an open invite to cross-contamination. I buy it fresh as possible, either cook it or freeze it quickly and thaw safely. No issues--ever.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kagemusha

      I don't think I've ever washed chicken parts. Whole chickens, yes, and yes after brining a whole chicken.

      1. re: Kagemusha

        I agree. There is no need to rinse chicken or turkeys.

      2. From a food safety perspective rinsing isn't going to do anything. You're not going to be washing off any bacteria unless you are using soap in which case you probably wouldn't want to be eating the chicken afterwards.

        However, I usually rinse my chicken to remove any blood/coagulated chicken juice that the chicken might be covered with after sitting in the packaging.

        1. The USDA has long warned AGAINST rinsing chicken and meat.

          There's no reason to anyway unless its got a lot of gunk on it.

          1. This makes me wonder where meat dept. clerks and butchers I've talked with over the years got their information. I even had one person at a national chain which shall remain unnamed tell me to soak chicken in an antibacterial bath in the sink. I just ignored that little bit of overkill. I mean, aren't these people ServSafe trained?

            So, where do you all think all the misinformation originates? This all strikes me as a little bizarre, since I seem to have been deluded all these years, and lots of other people supported the delusion...

            6 Replies
            1. re: amyzan

              "I even had one person at a national chain which shall remain unnamed tell me to soak chicken in an antibacterial bath in the sink."

              Just ass salt and sugar and you'll have a tempting germ-free brined bird in only a few hours.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                I'm not even sure what to say, but I am laughing out loud right now.

              2. re: amyzan

                I don't know about the misinformation, but I always figured washing the meat was a regional thing. Did you grow up in the south? I've known cooks from the south who washed meat, but never any from other regions of the US who did.

                1. re: 512window

                  We only every washed poultry and pork. Never beef.

                  1. re: 512window

                    That's intereting. I grew up in Lexington, KY, which has pretensions of being southern, but was typically suburban in the 1970's. I spent ten years in North Carolina, and two years before that in Texas. So, you may have something there, 512window.

                    C. Hamster, I tend to dry brine whole birds a la Judy Rogers recipe. But, yeah, that suggestion from the meat counter clerk was wacky.

                2. Bacteria spread up to a 3 ft radius? Wow! What are these people doing? Holding up the chicken and spraying with the sink sprayer?

                  I use the sink and bathe my chicken. This allows me to wash the bag juices, pull out partially plucked feathers, remove cavity fat and scrape off the yellowish film on the skin. Give the chicken a visual once-over.

                  Next, I transfer to a paper towel lined steel bowl for drying.

                  I don't think the issue here is whether it's right or wrong to wash chicken.

                  The real issue is cross-contamination. If people are smart about it, they could reduce that 3 ft radius easily by a half.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: dave_c

                    That's what I do, in a big bowl in the sink, not the sink itself. I always dig out the kidneys (the red goopy stuff either side of the backbone a few inches up from the vent) because I think they taint the taste of the meat. My mama said so anyhow. I'm not about to bang the chicken in the oven with those in there.

                    1. re: dave_c

                      Dave, that's pretty much the method I'd been using. I don't know if it holds true in all parts of the US, but here, I find birds aren't processed quite as well as I'd want to serve it. There are usually pin feathers, bits of organ inside that will flavor the meat, and that yellow membrane that while it keeps the bird fresher during storage, really needs removal before roasting, IMO.

                      1. re: dave_c

                        yes, they are picking up the water-rinsed chicken, holding it above their heads, and swinging it around shouting, aaaaIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Stay Tuned for the new Fox TV show, "Xena: Warrior Princess of the Kitchen."
                          "The most shocking episode ever!"

                          1. re: dave_c

                            The Julia Child program with the fowls of all shapes and sizes being propped up and Julia-handled would give the food police conniption fits!

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Julia Child had a sense of humor. BTW... That French Chef episode is on YouTube. :-)

                            2. re: dave_c

                              "see the eruption of salmonella all over fellow contestants!"
                              "experience the cross-contamination!"

                              ...."just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen."