Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Should you wash your chicken before cooking it?

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Forget what older folks said – no need to wash raw chicken or any meat before you cook. Even the US Department of Agriculture and other food safety experts say it’s a bad idea. Here’s why.

Washing chicken can spread bacteria like salmonella to your kitchen surfaces, risking contamination of other ingredients. A USDA study in 2019 found bacteria in the sinks of 60% of people who washed raw chicken.

“You might not notice the mess you’re spreading around,” mentioned Shawn Matijevich, a cooking teacher at the Culinary Education Institute in New York City. “Even a little bit can end up on everything.”

According to Matijevich, bacteria doesn’t spread through the air but only through touching surfaces. So, it’s a good idea to reduce how often you touch raw chicken or let it come into contact with plates, utensils, or kitchen surfaces.

The idea that washing chicken with vinegar, lemon juice, or salt water to kill germs doesn’t actually work, according to scientific studies. While these methods might give the chicken a quick brine, they don’t do anything to get rid of bacteria.

The safest way to ensure your chicken is safe to eat is by cooking it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to science.

Instead of washing chicken, here’s a simple alternative: use paper towels. Take more than you think you need, advises Matijevich. Then, either pat the chicken dry or let the paper towels soak up the extra liquid. Even if you’re someone who tries to reduce the use of disposable items in the kitchen, using paper towels will decrease the risk of spreading bacteria through additional surface contact.

Toss the used paper towels in the trash right away. According to Donald Schaffner, a professor at Rutgers University, when you dry chicken with paper towels, it reduces splashing, but those towels might have germs, so get rid of them quickly.

Before cooking chicken, whether it has skin or not, drying it helps it get brown in the pan or oven. Moisture makes it hard to get that crispy skin. This paper towel trick also works for chicken that’s been marinated or brined.

To prevent mixing germs in the kitchen, use a separate cutting board for fruits, vegetables, and cheese.

Here are some easy steps to keep your kitchen clean and your food safe:

1. Use one cutting board only for chicken and meat, and another for veggies and cheese. This helps avoid spreading bacteria from raw meat to fresh veggies.

2. Save handling raw chicken or meat for the last step. First, wash, chop, and prepare all your veggies. This way, even if you use different cutting boards, there’s less chance of spreading bacteria around the kitchen.

Following these simple tips keeps your kitchen safe and your meals delicious!

After handling raw chicken, make sure to wash your hands with hot, soapy water right away. I usually do this in an empty sink to avoid splashing on other kitchen stuff that may need cleaning later.

Clean any items that touched raw chicken or its juices either in the dishwasher or with hot, soapy water. Using the dishwasher’s sanitize cycle is the safest way to kill bacteria, according to Schaffner.

Avoid reusing a sponge or dishcloth used for cleaning dishes and utensils that touched raw chicken juices. Kitchen sponges can spread germs. If they clean chicken juice, put them in the dishwasher’s sanitize cycle. Keep sponges clean and dry when not in use to prevent bacteria growth.

To clean and sanitize your sink, use hot, soapy water for cleaning, but that won’t kill bacteria. After dealing with chicken or meat, sanitize the sink, faucet, and countertops to make sure no bacteria are left in your kitchen.

Create a cleaning mix by mixing ½ teaspoon of liquid bleach with 2⅔ cups of water in a spray bottle. Wipe surfaces using paper towels or a clean towel that can be washed in hot water. If you’re using store-bought cleaning spray or wipes, just follow what the label says.

Since the pandemic, there’s a higher chance of getting sick from food. To keep yourself safe and still enjoy your meals, it’s smart to follow good habits in your kitchen.

 

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