Do Not Wash That Chicken! (video)

This article was originally posted on August 24, 2013. We are revisiting it after hearing about a new survey that says 44% of people always wash chicken before cooking it — reported by Food Standards Agency in honor of Food Safety Week 2014.

We all know that chicken and other poultry is loaded with bacteria, and if not handled safely, can cause foodborne illness. That’s why you’re supposed to wash it, right? According to food safety researcher Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, an associate professor at Drexel University, that’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. Washing your chicken before you cook it can actually spread bacteria around the kitchen and increase the risk of cross-contamination. Not only that, but it turns out that water from your tap probably isn’t hot enough to kill bacteria.

“You should assume that if you have chicken, you have either Salmonella or Campylobacter bacteria on it, if not both,” says Quinlan, who helped develop the “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” campaign. “If you wash it, you’re more likely to spray bacteria all over the kitchen and yourself.”

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lists these other common safety mistakes that can cause foodborne illness:

  • Tasting food to see if it’s spoiled — you can’t taste, smell, or see bacteria that cause food poisoning.
  • Putting cooked meat on a plate that previously held raw meat — germs from the raw meat will transfer to the cooked meat.
  • Thawing food on the counter — germs multiply faster at room temperature.
  • Letting food cool before refrigerating it — it only takes an hour or two for bacteria to multiply.
  • Eating raw cookie dough or other foods containing uncooked eggs — uncooked eggs can contain Salmonella or other harmful bacteria.
  • Marinating meat, poultry, or seafood on the counter — again, room temperature is ideal for growing bacteria.
  • Transferring raw meat or poultry marinade onto cooked foods — bacteria from the raw meat will contaminate the cooked food.
  • Undercooking meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Not washing your hands often enough during food preparation.

The bottom line is washing your hands and keeping your kitchen clean are important — but cooking poultry to 165 degrees is the best way to kill bacteria and avoid foodborne illness.

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Susan R.
.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Tanya W.
Tanya W2 years ago

Noted thanks

Tanya W.
Tanya W2 years ago

Noted thanks

Nikolina J.
Nikolina J2 years ago

i heard about it a while ago and was surprised

Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago


Carol Johnson
Carol Johnson2 years ago

Thanks very informative

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se2 years ago


Dale O.

Briggitte A tells us that: "Not eating chicken at all is the safest and best!!"

Safest? What about that spinach that can get contaminated or the lettuce that gets recalls, etc? Does that mean I have to give up eating some of my favourite veggies? Not a chance. No one touches my spinach. Safest? That is when we all end up going Breatharian, as many foods have a risk of becoming contaminated in some way. However, being Breatharian is likely not all that it is cracked up to be, there are some distinct disadvantages.

'Best'? Since you are a vegetarian, well, eating chicken is not something that you are going to do, but omnivores eat chicken and we will continue to prepare it in the safest method as is possible. What is best for you and other vegetarians and vegans is not necessarily best for others. Vegans might tell you that it is 'best' that you don't eat cheese, honey, yogurt, eggs...foods that many vegetarians enjoy.

Dale O.

Karen F said: "Do not kill that chicken!" Along with: "I pray chickens have their revenge on humans..."

Well, many omnivores do eat chicken, especially those reading threads on chicken-related subjects. It is why some of the world is omnivore, we eat all kinds of different foods, including veggies, legumes and a variety of other foods. If you don't want to eat chicken, there are plenty of foods that you can eat instead, however, no one else draws up my menu. I guess the militant vegan Borg collective has come to the chicken eating threads to try and assimilate omnivores into the vegan collective. Resistance Is Not Futile. Some are attempting to release Borg chickens in a vain attempt to unleash revenge fantasies against omnivores dining on chickens and cows because some omnivores...shocking....actually do eat chicken. What better way to launch the invasion than to come to a thread about cleaning chicken and telling us not to eat chicken. Cluck, cluck.

Dale O.

'Revenge on humans', seems to be the ultimate fantasy of some of those who don't eat chicken and some even do dream up vengeful punishments for those people who do. Too much time on their hands perhaps. Of course, there is no Revenge of the Fish and other animals when a Tasmanian Devil eats them for dinner. Nor is there any Revenge Factor if a Spotted Quoll eats meat for dinner either.

Animals are allowed to be animals by some of the militant vegans unless their carnivore pet has to eat a vegan diet as well. However, some vegans forget that humans are also members of the animal kingdom and that humans don't have to put ourselves on a pedestal and then told that we are apart from the animal kingdom, that we must not eat chicken or other meat or told that we have 'choice' and therefore must avoid chicken. Fine, don't eat chicken if you prefer not to. The rest of us will still eat chicken and many of us avoid the factory farm. Perhaps some militant vegans will write a new TV show to showcase their various modes of 'payback' and call it 'Revenge Factor.' Or whatever.