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Why You Should Never Wash Raw Chicken Before Cooking It

Could this simple step be making you sick? 

Don't Wash the Chicken

Don't Wash the Chicken

Whether you should wash your poultry before you cook it is an age-old debate. You've probably had some people tell you that this is an important step in prepping your chicken. Others will claim you should never rinse your chicken beforehand because cooking it will "clean" it naturally. So what's the right answer?

The issue with raw poultry is that it has a certain amount of campylobacter bacteria. This bacteria is what causes people to get sick from eating poorly prepared chicken.

Because of the bacteria it carries, raw chicken is potentially dangerous and can cause food poisoning. However, once you have cooked your poultry thoroughly, you've killed off all the germs and bacteria. Knowing how to properly handle and cook your chicken is the only way to avoid food poisoning. This is something the food community is able to agree on easily, however whether or not you should wash raw chicken before cooking, is unclear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has finally put this debate to rest by saying that no one should wash raw chicken. Washing raw poultry can be potentially dangerous as it can spread the harmful bacteria to other utensils and food in your kitchen. The campylobacter bacteria is carried through the water droplets and essentially contaminates other items in your kitchen. When you wash your chicken you are simply spreading the campylobacter bacteria, and only a small amount is needed to make someone sick. Therefore, washing your chicken may disperse harmful bacteria in your kitchen, so you should avoid this step when preparing your meals.

If you leave the chicken unwashed, simply cooking it till it is exactly the right temperature is the only thing you need to do to make chicken safe to eat. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit (or 74° celsius). 

If you're really set on washing your bird before cooking it, the only safe option is to let the chicken soak in a pot of water. This prevents any splash contamination from happening.  If you do this, make sure to clean out the pot and also your sink thoroughly in order to get rid of any lingering bacteria. 


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Chef Tips and Tricks

VIDEO: Chicken Quesadillas

These quick and easy chicken quesadillas are the perfect, last-minute family dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp. of Mexican spice mix
  • 4 Tortillas
  • Cheddar
  • Salt, to taste

METHOD:

  1. Put shredded chicken breast, tomato sauce, chives, and mexican spice mix in a bowl and mix together.
  2. Lay out the tortillas. Place a slice of cheddar in the center, and cover with the chicken mix.
  3. Fold up tortillas, and heat in a frying pan until golden.
  4. Enjoy!

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