Do You Wash Your Meat Before Cooking It? Here’s Why Experts Say You Shouldn’t
The conversation of whether or not you should wash your meat before cooking it has been an ongoing one for some time. And while we all love to think that it’s only non-Black people who opt to cook their poultry without washing it beforehand, that’s not entirely true. The late world famous chef was actually a big proponent of washing your meats before cooking them.
“Just run the water right through it, inside and out,” she said during Season 7 of The French Chef. “And the reason…I just think it’s the safer thing to do.”
But video of the hosts of Canadian talk show The Social has people talking yet again, because a number of the women, except co-host Marci Ien, said they didn’t wash their meat. Instead, they found clever ways to take the chicken from the packaging straight to the pan:
The video, as you can see, clearly side-eyes the idea of cooking meat without washing it. However, experts say washing it does nothing but possibly spread contamination.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) actually does not recommend washing meat before cooking it. The concern is more so over the possible spread of germs in your kitchen, onto your countertops, to other food and on you.
“Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, which can lead to illnesses,” said Marianne Gravely of the Food Safety Education Staff of the USDA. “We call this cross contamination. Researchers at Drexel University have shown that it is best to move meat and poultry straight from package to pan, since the heat required for cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present.”
There is a belief from experts that you could be spreading bacteria like salmonella and Campylobacter. So they say that if you keep your surfaces clean, as well as your utensils, and cook your meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you should be just fine. Properly cooking your meat is supposed to keep you from unwanted bacteria.
But for the record, no one says that washing your chicken, keeping it away from your other foods and then disinfecting the area after the fact is a problem. Truth be told, a lot of chicken sits in packaging with film and “purge,” the latter being that red stuff you assume is blood. Though it stinks like hell, it’s actually water and meat proteins that have come out of the chicken. And while some people are just fine with putting all of that in a pan, it’s one of the main reasons many people choose to rinse and dry their meat first. If you want to include lemon and go the whole nine yards, that’s cool too.
So as it stands, cleaning meat before cooking may not be technically necessary, but if it’s what floats your boat and you haven’t battled with salmonella posing or Campylobacter sickness, then why stop? I personally haven’t heard of anyone getting sick from opting to do so…