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Julia Child was wrong-Don't wash your chicken.

Phaedrus Aug 23, 2013 06:27 AM


  1. Monica Aug 23, 2013 07:30 AM

    well, she wasn't the God.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Monica
      Virginian Aug 23, 2013 08:46 AM

      Of course she was. :)

      1. re: Monica
        LindaWhit Aug 24, 2013 04:36 PM


      2. h
        HoosierFoodie Aug 23, 2013 07:56 AM

        That may be true but Health Departments are still going to require the label.

        1. bagelman01 Aug 23, 2013 08:04 AM

          Julia Child wasn't wrong for her time and the type of chicken purveyed.
          Back before huge factory farming operations and prepacked supermarket chicken it was likely that the chicken you bought at the butcher had little bits of feathers/quill stiil on the surface, and little dark bits from the giblets had to be rinsed out of the cavity. Nowadays it is unusual to find the giblets in the bird, they've been packed separately for sale at higher per pound prices.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bagelman01
            monavano Aug 23, 2013 08:12 AM

            Yup. Different times and all.

            1. re: monavano
              tastesgoodwhatisit Aug 23, 2013 06:36 PM

              Yeah, that's what I thought when I saw this thread.

              I buy chicken at a traditional market where it's freshly slaughtered and cleaned, and I do have to rinse out bits of the inside, and there are occasionally bits of feathers.

              These days, with the foam and plastic packaging of boneless skinless chicken breasts, I can see the new recommendations, though - the chances of spreading contamination to other surfaces via washing outweighs any benefit you'd get.

            2. re: bagelman01
              Caroline1 Aug 31, 2013 11:28 PM

              YIKES!!! I should read ALL of the posts before I jump in an end up sounding like a parrot! Sorry all!

            3. b
              bcc Aug 23, 2013 10:50 AM

              I disagree. There may be bits of ripped intestines or other entrails left inside, which a quick rinse can remove.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bcc
                C. Hamster Aug 24, 2013 01:56 PM

                If its a whole chicken, why would you care?

                I never rinse chicken.

                1. re: C. Hamster
                  bcc Aug 24, 2013 05:26 PM

                  Why would I care? The last chicken I cooked had some green, grassy matter in the cavity. It looked like it had originally been in the intestines. I prefer to rinse it out.

              2. f
                foodieX2 Aug 23, 2013 03:31 PM


                This tends to be a very test subject around these parts.

                (I'm a chicken rinser but then I often buy freshly butchered birds)

                1 Reply
                1. re: foodieX2
                  Kontxesi Aug 23, 2013 05:46 PM

                  Same. Mine are frozen but come from a local farmer, and they almost always have giblet bits in them. Definitely require a rinse!

                2. EM23 Aug 23, 2013 06:21 PM

                  One of my favorite Julia & Jacques moments was during the episode on roasting chickens.
                  Julia – I wash my chicken in hot water.
                  Jacques - I don’t wash my chicken.
                  Julia – Well they don’t really worry about such things in France.
                  Jacques – I live in Connecticut.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: EM23
                    Violatp Aug 23, 2013 06:28 PM

                    Oh, I love those two together.

                  2. Phaedrus Aug 23, 2013 06:27 PM

                    Interesting that people are focusing on whether the bird is clean. I think the report says that the birds do have unsavory living organisms on them, but that the spraying and rinsing tends to give the germs a chance to spread throughout the kitchen. This is why they recommend not washing the chicken, in addition those germs can be easily neutralized by cooking. So it is better to keep the germs in one place so that you can deal with it efficiently.

                    1. cowboyardee Aug 23, 2013 06:51 PM

                      Advice not to rinse your chicken has been repeated often, usually as though it's a super important tip... like rinsing your chicken is the equivalent of leaving it out overnight and then eating it raw.

                      So... do you wash your hands after you touch chicken? The cutting board you put it on maybe? Wouldn't that spread the same bacteria around? Perhaps the moral of this story shouldn't be that you can keep your kitchen magically sterile just by no longer rinsing chicken. Rather your kitchen WILL get contaminated if you use it, and you should take care to ensure the surfaces touching your food are cleaned regularly, and that your food should be treated well (time and temperature-wise) since the initial presence of some germs is more or less inevitable.

                      It's a minor difference in technique that makes minimal difference to food safety in general.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: cowboyardee
                        Puffin3 Aug 24, 2013 05:40 AM

                        I pretty much never cook any bird that isn't whole. Make that I never cook any bird that isn't whole.
                        I always brine the birds over night. I figure the salt in the brine water will kill a lot of bacteria. Probably not all.
                        I've been roasting birds 'low and slow' for many years with perfect results.
                        Then recently I'm on Youtube watching Heston B. and he's explaining how he roasts the 'perfect chicken'. As I'm watching he takes the viewer through each step. All the time I'm saying to the TV: "Hey Heston! You're doing EXACTLY what I've been doing long before you ever showed up on TV". LOLhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgU-WycA54I

                        1. re: Puffin3
                          sandylc Aug 24, 2013 04:09 PM


                          I learned long ago from I don't know who that to truss a bird is to overcook the breast and undercook the thigh. It's simple logic, yet even professionals continue to instruct us imperiously to tie away.

                          1. re: sandylc
                            melpy Aug 24, 2013 05:17 PM

                            I find no need to truss. My chicken is great.

                            1. re: melpy
                              sandylc Aug 24, 2013 05:36 PM

                              Zackly!!! Trussing is silly and wrong!

                              1. re: sandylc
                                biondanonima Aug 29, 2013 11:11 AM

                                I never truss either. Not only does it make the thing cook less evenly, it keeps all that awesome skin around the leg/thigh joint from getting crispy. And since the crispy skin is the best part, why would you ever do anything to jeopardize its perfection?

                        2. re: cowboyardee
                          sunshine842 Aug 31, 2013 06:04 AM

                          Just stop buying chicken altogether -- then you can't contaminate anything while you're preparing the filthy thing. No pork or beef, because of contamination introduced during processing.

                          And no produce -- Christ, there's all that bug shit on it -- who knows where that can get splashed?

                          Just give up buying and preparing your own food, because you're just not capable of doing it right -- we're the restaurants and the government, and we're here to help. For a profit.

                          (removes tongue from cheek)

                          1. re: sunshine842
                            INDIANRIVERFL Aug 31, 2013 06:22 AM

                            I love the way you think.

                        3. o
                          ospreycove Aug 24, 2013 01:14 PM

                          I agree for "Air Chilled Birds"( a procedure used only by premium chicken brands), but for the favored method of many factory farm/slaughtering operations the water chilling amounts to little more than a fecal bath. Answer, buy only [pastured, humanely slaughtered poultry.

                          1. SWISSAIRE Aug 24, 2013 01:51 PM

                            I don't wash mine.

                            Some markets here sell chicken, duck, and geese with the head and neck intact. Those have to be removed, and drained.

                            Some birds still have "hairs" from the feathers, and we have to do a quick burn with Isopropyl 91% alcohol and a match to remove them. My point here is that in fairness, there can be dripping, etc. resulting from, and associated with handling and preparing fowl and game birds in cooking.

                            High, sustained heat is the best way to remove contaminant possibilities. Splashing everything around from washing in the kitchen sink is not, and never a good idea anyway.

                            I've seen this done once in Germany involving a Turkey and a large expensive overhead pot faucet that has become fashionably trendy. The resulting spray and splash went 2m ( 6 feet + ) everywhere. I happened to have been invited into the kitchen just after this happened. On that afternoon, the evening Supper followed the needed clean-up.

                            If you do feel the need to rinse items, do it in the sink, and not on the counter, using very LOW water pressure. You don't need Niagara, or Iguaçu Falls pressure and spray to clean in the kitchen sink.

                            Following any such necessary rinse, scrub up the walls and basin of the sink ( knives, tools, and hands too ) with hot, soapy water, and hot rinse off well.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: SWISSAIRE
                              tastesgoodwhatisit Aug 24, 2013 05:22 PM

                              What I think it basically comes down to is that washing chicken is *not* an effective way to get rid of bacteria. Cooking, however, *is*. If you're cooking the chicken properly, the bacteria will be killed during that process, making washing redundant.

                              Washing raw chicken actually makes things worse, because if you aren't extremely careful and very meticulous about cleaning up, you can accidentally spread that bacteria to other surfaces, increasing the risk of cross contamination with ingredients that aren't cooked - like a salad - which is one of the main sources of home-based food poisoning.

                              If I am doing something messy with a whole bird (like cutting a turkey into quarters) I clear everything off the counter first, so there's no clutter, then afterwards I wash everything, including counters and backsplash, with hot soapy water, toss the dishcloth into the laundry, and finish with a wipe with a spray bottle of vinegar and the new cloth.

                            2. Atomic76 Aug 25, 2013 03:40 PM

                              I've seen another method for cleaning chicken, for Hainanese Chicken they rub the chicken repeatedly with rock salt until the skin is clean and smooth.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Atomic76
                                Caroline1 Aug 31, 2013 11:32 PM

                                That's exactly how I clean my cast iron cookware! '-)

                              2. Chemicalkinetics Aug 25, 2013 05:09 PM

                                I am a chicken rinser, but not for safety reason.

                                While the "Don't rinse your chicken" is a current advise, it is also an old advise. This makes the "rinse your chicken" a super old advice. Time flies.

                                1. NanaMoussecurry Aug 25, 2013 07:46 PM

                                  Washing chicken just splashes its bacteria around your sink and such. Meanwhile I'd rather not wash the sink as well as it adds to labor. Cooking will kill the bacteria anyways

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: NanaMoussecurry
                                    mcf Aug 29, 2013 11:34 AM

                                    Yeah, but the nasty bits that contain them are still there on the finished meal. I prefer to remove chicken shit and bits of internal organs under a gentle stream of water (no spraying around) and using my fingers, just so nothing that grosses me out is part of the finished meal. I always bleach my sink and counters, etc. after handling any raw meat anyway.

                                    Your mileage may vary.

                                  2. JMF Aug 29, 2013 07:21 AM

                                    In the words of Alton Brown, "We all need to calm the F*#k down!"

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: JMF
                                      sandylc Aug 29, 2013 09:54 AM

                                      Ha, the worst part of the article to me was that he trusses the bird. Only truss a bird if you want it to cook unevenly.

                                      1. re: JMF
                                        sunshine842 Aug 31, 2013 06:09 AM

                                        I heart Alton, anyway.

                                        But now I heart him and Ruhlman even more.

                                        Thanks for the link.

                                      2. jrvedivici Aug 29, 2013 11:16 AM

                                        I like a dirty bird.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jrvedivici
                                          kaleokahu Aug 29, 2013 11:43 AM

                                          As does everyone. Some just can't admit it.

                                          1. re: jrvedivici
                                            Caroline1 Aug 31, 2013 11:36 PM

                                            And I like me a little George Gobel!

                                          2. Will Owen Aug 29, 2013 05:30 PM

                                            The quoted Expert lost me at "internal temperature of 165º" - that's not cooked, that's immolated.

                                            If I rinse the chicken in a bowl in my nice big sink, dry it carefully with a couple of clean towels that will immediately go into a laundry hamper, and wash my hands afterwards, how am I going to splash those nasty evil germs all over the kitchen? The problem with the safety mavens is they want to make the world foolproof, which serves only to make the world safe for fools and prove to the rest of us that being a fool is okay now. I am not convinced of the wisdom of that.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                              TroyTempest Aug 30, 2013 09:33 AM

                                              I had to look up immolated.

                                              When i cook a chicken to 170 (taken in the inner thigh), there's still pinkness in the joints, and it's not dry at all. I'm not doing it rawer than that.

                                              And, I don't truss it, BTW. cooks more evenly.

                                              1. re: TroyTempest
                                                grayelf Aug 30, 2013 09:03 PM

                                                I go to 170 also, same results. I've stopped trussing but do sorta tuck the wings in a bit. And birdie gets a wee swish out and pat down with paper towels before her salty shower.

                                            2. LMAshton Aug 31, 2013 04:46 AM

                                              Depending on where I'm shopping, my chicken may come with feathers, chicken shit, hay, dirt, or rocks.

                                              I'll continue washing my chicken before cooking.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: LMAshton
                                                INDIANRIVERFL Aug 31, 2013 05:02 AM

                                                If I see something on or in the chicken I would not want to eat, I will remove it.

                                                I can't see microbes.

                                                I don't care if you wash yours. Please don't care if I don't.

                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                  LMAshton Aug 31, 2013 05:17 PM

                                                  Can't say that I care much what other people do with their food if I'm not eating it. Don't wash your chicken? Okay. *shrugs*

                                              2. petek Aug 31, 2013 06:12 AM

                                                Never washed a bird in my life and I've never got sick from one(and I've cooked hundreds of birds)

                                                1. Caroline1 Aug 31, 2013 11:26 PM

                                                  Once again my age comes to my rescue and to your benefit BECAUSE... In Julia Child's day (and mine!), salmonella contaminated chickens were pretty much unheard of! It was safe to wash chickens in the sink under running water, and the purpose was to free the innards (and outtards) of such things as crumbled fresh kidneys, bits and pieces from the disemboweling and hand plucking process, and any young feathers that may still be clinging to the bird. I doubt that she EVER cooked or ate an "agribusiness" raised chicken in her lifetime that came packaged in a skin-suit tight plastic wrapper that it was heat sealed into. In those days you chose a freshly killed chicken from your butcher's showcase, he brought it out for you to examine and poke, then wrapped it in butcher's paper, tied the package up with a string (or taped it shut) and sent you on your way! Oh oh..... Wait... I think I did once hear her admit to having tried Kentucky Fried Chicken, and liking it. But she didn't cook it!

                                                  In the United States today, even though a vaccine is available to spray on baby chicks ( hatchlings) to "salmonella proof" them, I don't know how successful/universal that program is. Hence, for years the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has strongly discouraged all from rinsing uncooked chickens in the kitchen sink or placing them on a counter, etc., or handling them without wearing exam gloves BECAUSE that just spreads the salmonella germs all over your kitchen, not to mention you and your clothing...

                                                  That means that when taken IN CONTEXT, Julia was right! But she would not be right if she was still alive and said it of today's poultry supply!

                                                  History is a good thing! '-)

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