Last month the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) tweeted a tip informing the public that one should not wash poultry before cooking it. This friendly tip from the CDC was not warmly received by the public, many of the replies to this tweet stated that they were not planning on changing their preparation practices in this regard.
Why is washing your chicken before cooking it such a bad practice?
When washing your chicken harmful bacteria, like Campylobacter, Salmonella or Clostridium perfringens, splashes off the chicken as you wash it. Just because you cannot physically see this happening does not mean that it isn’t. It can splash the bacteria all over you, kitchen towels, countertops, and any other foods that might not be cooked afterward such as salads. This can make individuals ill, especially people with weaker immune systems such as young children, pregnant women, older adults, and immunocompromised individuals.
What is the proper way to handle chicken?
- Place chicken in a disposable bag before putting in your shopping cart or refrigerator to avoid raw juices from coming into contact with other foods.
- Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling chicken.
- Use a separate cutting board for the raw chicken to avoid cross contamination.
- Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surfaces that previously held a raw chicken.
- Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing chicken and before you prepare the next item.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 75 °C.
- If cooking frozen raw chicken in a microwavable meal, handle it as you would fresh raw chicken. Follow cooking directions carefully to prevent food poisoning.
- If you think the chicken you are served at a restaurant or anywhere else is not fully cooked, send it back for more cooking.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken as soon as possible. Foods should never be between 20 – 45 °C.