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Don’t Wash Chicken and Turkey

Posted By Dr. Michael Polsinelli, DC On September 1, 2013 @ 2:00 pm In Food,Health,Nutrition | No Comments

I recently became aware of a campaign to keep people from rinsing/washing/soaking their poultry. They state that the best way to kill the bacteria is by cooking it properly. Washing the poultry only spreads the bacteria onto your hands and around your kitchen.

I had been recommending rinsing and soaking poultry in salt water as a way to minimize the bacterial content. Evidently, I was wrong. Others that have been recommending washing poultry are Julia Child, James Beard, Alton Brown, Mark Bittman, and the authors of the Joy of Cooking.

Bacterial contamination in poultry is a big deal. In one study, Consumer Reports [1] found bacterial contamination in 83% of 500 chickens tested. This included organic and kosher chickens.

To combat these bacteria, make sure to cook it to at least 165° F.

And evidently, don’t wash the poultry. One study found [2] that washing poultry can spread bacteria three feet away from the sink.

So new recommendations:

  • In the supermarket, choose well-wrapped chicken, and put it in a plastic bag to keep juices from leaking.
  • Store chicken at 40° F or below. If you won’t use it for a couple of days, freeze it.
  • Thaw frozen chicken in a refrigerator (in its packaging and on a plate), or on a plate in a microwave oven. Cook chicken thawed in a microwave oven right away.
  • Do not wash the poultry
  • Separate raw chicken from other foods. Immediately after preparing it, wash your hands with soap and water, and clean anything you or raw chicken touched.
  • To kill harmful bacteria, cook chicken to at least 165° F.
  • Don’t return cooked meat to the plate that held it raw.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking.
Don’t Wash Your Chicken! No Matter What Your Cookbook Says [3] Julia Child Was Wrong: Don’t Wash Your Raw Chicken, Folks [4] Don’t Wash Your Chicken! [5]
Alt. title Don’t wash chicken and turkey. 
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[8] Bacterial Contamination In Chicken:

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