September 10th, 2013
02:30 AM ET
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Home cooks have been all a-cluck over recent guidance not to wash raw chicken before it's prepared and cooked. While it may seem counterintuitive, food safety resources like the United States Department of Agriculture's "Ask Karen" website advise:

"Washing poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.

Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe. However, some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed. But there are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illness. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, and grilling) to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary."

The same goes for beef, pork, lamb and veal. Eggs, too, can incur an uptick in potential contamination, because according to the USDA, "the wash water can be 'sucked' into the egg through the pores in the shell."

So why did we all start bathing our birds in the first place? Probably because Julia Child, James Beard, Bettie Crocker, Fannie Farmer, Margaret Mitchell and the "Joy of Cooking" told us - and our parents and grandparents - to.

In 2001, Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1" was republished in a fortieth anniversary edition, complete with a foreword to the 1983 edition that acknowledged updates in kitchen technology since the book's original edition. Beck and Child noted that they had adapted recipes from the original 1961 version to include the use of food processors, update meat thermometer readings and adjust for shorter-cooking rice and reformulated chocolate.

However, the 2001 edition still includes the advice: "Because commercially raised chickens, on the whole, are packed in a communal tub of ice at least during part of their processing, it is probably wise to give them a thorough washing and drying before storing or cooking - just to be on the safe side." A jacket note from the same printing indicates that the text therein "leads the cook infallibly from the buying and handling of raw ingredients, through each essential step of a recipe, to the final creation of a delicate confection."

Plus it's Julia Child! Her, Beck and Bertholle's masterwork became culinary canon because of its rigorous attention to getting recipes right. That omelette technique works every time. The boeuf Bourguignon recipe is practically the basis for a cult, and while there are likely far fewer consumers are consulting brain blanching methods these days, a goodly chunk of those who do probably have their copy of MtAoFC cracked open to the relevant section. It stands to reason that a home cook would assume that every facet of the guidance offered would stand the test of time - and it may have been assumed accurate in its day.

Oeufs can be trusted to fluff as the decades roll on, but food production practices - and the accompanying safety concerns - are in a constant state of flux.

Child, it should be noted, passed away at the age of 91 in 2004. It would not be out of the realm of strong possibility that the obsessive recipe tester might have revised the text to reflect the updated safety information, had she been just a teensy bit further from the century mark.

But plenty of equally-trusted cooks of the era were in the kitchen with Julia on the topic of poultry-laundering.

The 1953 edition of Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker's "The Joy Of Cooking" (originally published in 1931) counseled at the conclusion of "To Draw a Bird" not to to soak the bird at any time, but rather: "Hold it under running water to clean the insides." While it might seem somewhat antiquated or twee for modern cooks to take as gospel the teachings of a book with a robust aspic and "ring salad" section, "Joy" is a book that takes on more cachet, the more generations it's been handed down through.

A cook could be forgiven for trusting a book with his or her grandmother's notes penned primly in the margin. The same goes for devotees of Betty Crocker's 1958 "Dinner for Two" ("Select roasting chicken or young turkey. Remove any pinfeathers and wash. Pat dry."), or Caroline B. Perry's 1953 classic "The Shaker Cookbook: Not by Bread Alone." ("Select chickens weighing 2 1/2 pounds or a little over, for smaller ones lack flavor and cook up waxy. Wash well and quarter.")

Nine different recipes in home economist Margaret Mitchell's 1958 "Mealtime Magic Cookbook" for Alcoa Wrap Kitchens begin with some variation of "Wash, clean chicken, cut into desired pieces." Mrs. Albert Simons of 1950's "Charleston Receipts" believed a rooster needed a good washing before being "boil(ed) hard" for Faber's Pilau. Even actor Alfred Lunt hopped on the chicken cleansing train with his Chicken Paprika recipe in the 1948 "The Celebrities Cookbook." ("Wash and disjoint chicken, cutting into portions for serving.")

Toss one more on the fire? Fine: no less an expert than Fannie Merritt Farmer advised in the 1929 edition of "The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book":

"Remove oil bag, and wash bird by allowing cold water to run through it, not allowing bird to soak in cold water. Wipe inside and outside, looking carefully to see that everything has been withdrawn. If there is disagreeable odor, suggesting that fowl may have been kept too long, clean at one, wash inside and out with soda water, and sprinkle inside with charcoal, and place some under wings." [Editor's note: If this even needs to be said, don't try this one at home.]

By 1972, gourmand and cookbook author James Beard made chicken washing contingent upon its origins. While lamenting about the loss of flavor he attributed to modern poultry raising methodology, Beard found one thing to crow about in his "American Cookery":

"However, these nine-weeks wonders are beautiful to look at, perfectly drawn and cleaned, and come so pure they do not even have to be washed before cooking...There was once a time when chicken was a Sunday dinner dish and could be found in most homes stuffed and roasted, stewed with dumplings, or fried and served with cream gravy. Now it is daily food, propagandized for its low calorie count."

Just several pages later, Beard paid homage to these heavy, homey dishes with recipes for sumptuous, long-stewed Country Captain, Stuffed Poached Chicken and Country-Style White Fricassee. He cited chicken washing in each of those, but not for any fried variation, Chicken California or anything involving poaching. American cooks, it seemed, were testing their wings, but not yet ready to fly away from the faucet completely.

Nowadays, there's nary a peep about chicken washing, even in poultry-centric cookbooks, unless it's a caveat against the practice. Cooks Illustrated's 1999 "The Complete Book of Chicken" makes no mention of it, and the tenth anniversary edition of Mark Bittman's food bible "How to Cook Everything" relies on general kitchen cleanliness (including lots of hand washing) and obsessive attention to temperature to ensure the annihilation of harmful bacteria like salmonella.

Better Homes and Gardens, however, knows how far you've come together, and how hard it is to let go of the past. The plaid-bound workhorse of a cookbook could be found in one million American kitchens by its eighth anniversary in 1938 and has now sold more than 34 million copies. It seems almost like a civic duty for the editors to lay it out plainly:

"Rinsing poultry and meat is not necessary. The less you handle it the better."

Maybe...just maybe, the flock will finally follow.

– Fast facts on salmonella

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people in a normal state of health who ingest Salmonella-tainted food may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache and muscle pains. These symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.

Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune symptoms should practice extreme caution, as salmonellosis may lead to severe illness or even death.

Consumer resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration's Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
FDA Food Safety
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Education

More on food poisoning from CNN Health and all foodborne illness coverage on Eatocracy

soundoff (471 Responses)
  1. Roberk

    l wash it cause l dont trust ,who handled it before,so many perverts out there.

    September 11, 2013 at 12:03 am |
  2. Mr Clean

    So, what is really being said is that poultry is so dirty that it will contaminate everything 3 feet away will get cross contaminated by the micro droplets of contaminated water? If its that dirty, it makes one wonder why eat such nastiness. And why is all that nasty water allowed to be sold with the chicken in the first place.

    We all know this water left in the packaging is like a couple of fingers on the scale. Just take the "sanitary napkin" from the bottom of a package and weigh it. The squeeze the water out and weigh it again. Yes you just spent almost a dollar for dirty water....

    September 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  3. Becca

    The reason that chicken's were washed was due to the fact that pieces of feathers or debris would be left on the skin of the chicken and it was just additional measure to make sure the chicken was clean for cooking. It is becoming less of a need because of our manufacturer standards and processes that those things are usually clear off the skin of the chicken. I still wash my chickens out of habit and will probably continue to do so.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Mr.Fletch

      You are wrong!! Why wouldn't you just eat the entire chicken raw without cooking or washing them? Isn't it save you time for those unnecessary procedures?

      September 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  4. mhfc

    The main reason I wash chicken is to get rid of:

    a) leftover blood
    b) small bone pieces

    Both of those can be found in a chicken after it's been processed. And guess what: I'll still keep washing chickens before I cook them.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • vs

      So basically they're telling us to NOT rinse chickens because there are people out there who are stupid enough to not be clean and allow the "splashed" water from the rinsing to contaminate other foods & food surfaces. Are they stupid!!!! Why not just say "don't allow the rinsing of raw meats to splash onto other surfaces or foods when cooking." Advice to make up for idiots in the world is THE worst reason to give advice. I will still be rinsing raw meats regardless of whatever anyone says.

      September 11, 2013 at 3:01 am |
      • Matt

        To be fair its pretty much impossible to avoid splash contamination in the kitchen but the trick is, once the chicken's in the oven and you have cleaned up, let everything dry – the countertop, utensils, cutting boards, etc. Yes even the cleaning process, wiping counters, etc, helps spread bacterias over pretty much every surface you touch with that soapy sponge, but its the drying that kills the bacteria. Not antibacterial soap, just the drying out. No moisture, bacteria dead. And to keep your sponge healthy throw it in the dishwasher.
        I wash my chicken but to get rid of the blood/fluids its been soaking in. For instant decontamination you can use bleachwater and a cloth/towel like in restaurants but thats only as good as the thoroughness of your cleaning.

        September 11, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Matt

          Bleachwater for the counters, etc, not the chicken, lol. And bacterias is a typo - bacteria.

          September 11, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  5. MrFletch™

    Way back when I was 10 years old. I could still remember there was a pile of human waste near our area and soaked one of my chickens there to see if it can survive the smell but what I found out that chickens are already immuned to those kind of smell.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  6. indyurban

    Why do people eat animal flesh?

    September 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Bill

      Because it tastes great. You can get bacterial infections from contaminated vegetables as well, same rules of caution apply.

      September 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Plafoom

      The real religion teaches that plants are the resting souls of our ancestors and should be left in peace. Should a plant be killed and eaten, the ancestors soul that was resting in it will disappear from this universe for ever.

      Cows and such don't kill the grass they eat, just trim it and thus a balance of harmony is maintained.
      Beast be with you.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • W.G.

      It taste good and has vitamins that are important . The vegetables you eat are still alive when you cook them .
      have you ever thought of that PINHEAD !!

      September 11, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • NibblyBits

      Why do animals eat other animals?

      . ____ .

      March 2, 2014 at 4:05 am |
  7. Robert

    I wash my chicken for the pure reason that I do not know how it was handled and processed before packaging. Any time the human factor is involved before packaging it raises the issue that other foreign contaminates have been introduced before it was wrapped or the bird may not have been properly processed. I know how well I clean my Kitchen but I do not know how clean any surface or person the bird came in contact with was before packaging.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • ForensicsFighter

      You are so right. I used to not wash my chickens. Then when at a community event. One of our members who used to be an inspector for the FDA grabbed the chicken and DEMANDED that we wash them. He basically said you don't know how disgusting and lazy massed produced food is processed. He personally caught many disasters on the level Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle".

      September 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • keren

      egggggggzzakly!!!!!! i will continue washing my chicken.

      September 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Weeds

      Hi Bob,
      Nice to see you again.
      How come no one has mentioned cleaning their chicken in a pot of salted water? No splashes there. Or use 3 drops of bleach per gallon of water and soak the chicken for at least 3 minutes to help sanitize it for those who are immunosuppressed.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  8. Carmen

    This is why my Chinese restaurant, The City Wok, uses cat instead of chicken.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  9. Nathan

    Now all I can think of is boeuf Bourguignon :( But it takes so long!

    September 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  10. Clown

    When I was a kid we had chickens and a creek in the backyard. So one day I was bored and threw one in the creek to see if it could swim, chickens can't swim.

    September 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  11. me

    I grew up with Julia and Joy of Cooking as references. I also come from a strong cooking tradition on both sides of the family. I guess it is that traditional knowledge that led me to ignore the superfluous step of washing the meat.
    (I understand the recommendation was introduced due to modern production methods introducing cross-contamination. Still, "modern" methods have been around for several generations, and the cooks in my family haven't killed anyone in the past one hundred years that I am aware of.)

    September 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  12. twiggy

    Become a vegetarian and you don't have to worry about silly things like cross contamination.

    September 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • viranka

      right! and all you have to worry about is E-COLI in everything you eat...

      September 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Nathan

      Enjoy your e-coli.

      September 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  13. Annerain

    I wipe the chicken with a paper towel to make it easier to handle. My dad would bring home a bunch of chicken breast from work, and bone and skin them. My mom bagged them to go in the freezer. She would then put the board (first wood, and then eventually plastic, under the faucet and wipe with a paper towel. She then laid it out and later would put the bread for our sandwiches the next day school on the board and make sandwiches). No one ever got food poising in my house. I had it later in life, so, yes, I know what it's like.

    September 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Nathan

      I agree with you. I've never had food poisoning in my life but I think it's also based on whether you keep your kitchen clean and sanitized. I probably won't wash my chicken now if it's pointless but if you're sure to clean all your other surfaces than this article is irrelevant.

      September 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • keren


      September 10, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  14. Kim

    I don't wash it off unless it is frozen, To get the stuck on packaging off of it.

    September 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Jaguwar

    I don't "wash" my chicken, but for some recipes I rub it with lemon or lime, always in a clean sink, then season and let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Where I come from, *that* is what's called "washing".

    September 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  16. fred flinestone

    why should there be any bacteria on my chicken to begin with?

    September 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Arick

      Everything, including you, has bacteria on it.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  17. Ryan Texan

    No need to wash it. You can only wash the surface – and that's the hottest part when cooked – so nothing will survive the heat.
    You should be brining or marinating the chicken.
    Do not brine in a cooler. Unless you really plan to sterilize the cooler with bleach afterwards.
    I like huge glass bowls for brining/marinating. (Make sure you have room in the refrigerator!)
    You can dump the birds directly from bag/package into bowl. No big mess – no need to wash.
    Only food borne illness I ever got was from produce. And it wasn't in my kitchen.
    The germs you have to look out for with poultry are inside the bird – not on it. Seriously, washing it can splash raw chicken juice all around – why do it?

    September 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Robert

      There are some germs that the chlorine in water will kill whereas cooking it will not.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  18. Wilner Michel

    Anyway all the washing happens in the kitchen sink, not the counter. You have to remove all the fat , and apply all the seasonings within the confines of the kitchen sink. It's best to not use the counter when cleaning the chicken!!!!!

    September 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  19. mary

    Handling raw meat as little as possible is the best thing.. How can flinging bacteria all over the kitchen in any way be good??Cooking at the right temperature does the job.. Always has done the job..

    September 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  20. cpc65

    Is it still okay to choke it?

    September 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  21. RSully

    I wouldn't want my eggs shells to absorb the "wash water" that I drink everyday. That could be very bad

    September 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  22. Sandy

    I always rinse out the cavity of a whole chicken before roasting it, and chicken parts if I think they could use it.

    The crazy thing is that this is even an issue, because you should be cleaning up after opening a package of chicken anyway, unless you've figured out a way to get it out of the package without contaminating either counter or sink. I haven't, so I use an antibacterial wipe to go over the counter and sink and anything I touch (and any knife I use - it will be washed later, but I want to limit cross contamination). If I need a cutting board it goes in the dishwasher as soon as I'm done with it., and when I thaw chicken in the refrigerator I put the frozen package on a plate so it doesn't drip on anything.

    Once you've had food poisoning you'll pay strict attention for the rest of your life, even if you didn't give it to yourself (I didn't).

    September 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  23. Drew

    This is nonsense. It will depend on how you treat and cook the meat. Even vinegar or salt can or lime/lemon juice can vastly kill off bacteria. Washing the chicken is a way to inspect it and make it easier to dip in batter or flour. This article is stupid. Cook the meat done and stop worrying about it.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  24. Janet "I will still wash my chicken" Totten

    This is silly. If you wash your chicken with a spray nozzle, yes, you will spread bacteria. If you wash it gently under a slow stream of water, that is sensible and will not spread bacteria. Better yet, brine it and kill most of the bacteria while enhancing the flavor. Oh, and BTW, I have a PhD in immunology.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  25. Tim Kramar

    When I eat chicken, it comes precooked from the deli or KFC.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  26. wadej420

    it seems strange that even after knowing the conditions in a slaughterhouse it the dirty water that is gross and offensive, not he meat or the ahhhh... slaughter. washing it will not remove the growth hormones or all the antibiotics in the chicken so your 8 yr old will still have tits boy or girl.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  27. olaw

    i wash my chicken not just to wash off bacteria. i wash my chicken so that i can check and remove remaining feathers. other dirt's who caught up together on the process of preparation and packaging, you don't wanna have small pieces of plastic or paper or feathers and other foreign object mixed up in your favorite chicken menu. still washing your chicken is still wise to do. just make sure you clean the kitchen after you used it. thank you

    September 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  28. Robin Burns

    Any microbiologist will tell you that it isn't the bacteria that make you sick. Toxins that they produce are the real culprit in many cases, so rinsing still makes sense. So does practicing good hygiene in the kitchen! I'm all for washing surfaces before and after food preparation, thinking ahead of bacteria while doing so. You can't give up one process, in this case rinsing poultry before cooking, and expect that all other preparation procedures (such as cutting the meat) will not affect the work area, utensils and surfaces.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  29. Non-cents

    Who in their right mind is going to wash the chicken and not clean surfaces after putting it in it's place to be cooked. Truth is most people clean the chicken if they are clean people to begin with. This article is mis-leading information unless you are a person that thinks to clean the chicken but not the surfaces after. Once again MOST clean people clean everything to begin with. Common Sense!!!

    September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  30. guy

    Eh, what I'm getting from this article is that, if your chicken washing process involves you getting your counter and all your utensils/eating surfaces wet, just don't wash it and cooking it will be fine.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  31. Meat Inspector's daughter

    This is nuts, the only benefit to washing raw chicken is to clean off the juice that has accumulated in the pkg so that when you smell the chicken to see if it's fresh, you're not smelling that awful disgusting fluid!. Try smelling it first w/o washing - OMG! Then just rinse it once it is out of the pkg, that chicken shouldn't even smell like a chicken! No odor! If it still has one, throw it out or take it back! The only thing that will make that poultry safe to eat is 180 degrees Farenheit!

    September 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  32. denise

    My husband worked in a chicken slaughter house and said if you ever saw the water that those chickens go through you wouldn't ever eat chicken! So yes I rinse my chicken before I cook it!

    September 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • OdinVonTogan

      We had 5,000 chickens for eggs when I was a kid. I 'picked' 4,000 eggs per day, and washed them, about 80 at a time in a rubber-covered-wire bushel-basket, soaking in a gently-agitated soapy-water wash-tub, for 3 minutes. The water does NOT get sucked thru the pores in the shell of the egg!!! We had cage-free and caged hens – and we had premier eggs, about 300 billion times better than the cr-p they sell in major grocery stores today. The USDA food inspector recommended that we change our grade of eggs from Grade A to Grade AA and charge a little more. So, do we punch people in the head who have no clue, or put them in work camps where they can learn some reality 1st-hand. And if you think that aint the problem with this country, ignorant, un-knowing people everywhere, then you don't know much. I loathe the existence of these mental midgets, but that's just me – I have no kids to worry about. You, if you had a brain, would be afraid, VERY afraid.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  33. Tommy

    The communal wash of large chicken processors contains enough dissolved chicken manure that it looks the color of and smells like chicken manure, even if it is sanitized: so, now when the chicken at fast food restaurants smells like the chicken coop, you'll know what you’re eating!

    September 10, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  34. us_1776

    There's more bacteria in your tap water than there is on that chicken.


    September 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  35. Dev

    Ridiculous, I always remember at home we used to get a whole chicken pluck it. burn off any remaining stuff by exposing the chicken to a flame. The cut the chicken apply turmeric (natural antiseptic), wash the chicken and then cook it. Of course nowadays I just apply turmeric and salt and then wash it. Clean the counters afterwards.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  36. Kathleen Lawler

    I want you to know I eat chicken nearly every day. I love chicken. But for the last 4 to 6 months I get diaria every time I eat it. I used to boil it most of the time so I figured any bacteria was killed. It never made me sick before. My gut feeling was wash it 2 or 3 times before you cook it. Since I started washing it a whole lot I have not been sick at all. I told my friends maybe they started putting a perservative on it or something. What ever my body was rejecting it. So to see something saying you should not wash chicken threw me for a loop.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  37. Gwel

    Do you also rinse other meat like beaf or just chicken ?

    September 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  38. Primal 4 Life

    Dumb advice. Typical.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  39. Stephanie

    Buy the product, "Sol-U-Guard", made by Melaleuca for a high quality disinfectant spray for your kitchen (bathrooms, etc.) Hopitals even use it to kill the HIV Virus strain. I keep it around and feel more confident that I've killed off the nasty stuff! Hope it helps someone...

    September 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  40. mom that loves to cook

    I always wash my chicken before preparing to cook it. I wash off bits of the innards from the back, etc. BUT, I also keep my kitchen clean so I don't worry about cross contamination. The knife and cutting board I use for the chicken does not get used on anything else. I was my sink regularly. I also wash pork chops and any meat with a bone to get off bone fragments. Common sense. No way am I going to not wash a chicken. But then I buy whole chickens, not boneless skinless tenders. Still, keep your kitchen clean, use some common sense and clean your chicken! This is crazy. Just today I saw an article about chickens being packed with smeared chicken crap.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  41. Dapple

    I've always rinsed my chicken off and I've never gotten sick or anyone else in the house for that matter. I don't intend to change now. Next thing we know they're gonna tell us we need to rinse our chickens again because they're bat sh*t crazy.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  42. Chris Archuleta


    September 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Gwel

      Well, my grandpa never did but is still alive and in very good shape. He's 90 years old ...

      September 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  43. jd

    Many experts will step over the line of their expertise, and I think "Ask Karen" has done so, here. I wash chicken, but salmonella is not my only concern. I don't care how innocuous the chemicals or live things are on the surface of meat: I don't want to eat them. I don't want to taste refrigerator/freezer flavor. I don't want to take a chance some packer decided to touch the chicken with unwashed hands.

    And ask for the "Ask Karen" idea that I'm a sloppy housekeeper, letting water splash all over other eating surfaces? That might be a good warning for some kinds of kitchens, or for sloppy cooks, or for kids, but except food that's being washed (with soap) nothing I eat comes near my sink.

    But "Ask Karen" did put me in mind of a problems I've recently had with fake crab from Safeway. Both the prepacked and deli packed versions that are not frozen have had freshness issues. Huge surface area exposed to air? Impossible to wash ... hmmm.

    September 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  44. Chris R

    What do these egghead scientists with their fancy machines and degrees and years and years of experience know about this sort of stuff! Why listen to them and their expertise when we can just rely on gut instinct and a tradition based on absolutely no knowledge?!

    September 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  45. Gwel

    I'm French and I NEVER heard of anyone washing raw chicken. That's just spoiling good meat.

    September 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Mom

      Right there with you. I am French too and NEVER chicken, turkey or any poultry before cooking! It's being cooked anyway, any bacteria will be cooked too.

      September 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
      • Gwel

        The only things I rinse before cooking or eating are vegetables and fruits. But rinsing meat ? I can't even imagine what it would taste like.

        September 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • atty23

          It doesn't taste any different than when you don't wash it. I've roasted many chickens, some I washed and some I didn't. Never made a difference in the taste. I make an olive oil, lemon, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage and salt rub and get it up under the skin. It's delicious.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • jd

      Julia Child, "From Julia Child's Kitchen": "Still, in France ... eviscerated chickens frequently sit all together in a common bath of ice and water ... one infected bird can spread salmonella ... I am therefore in favor of washing chicken just before I cook it ... inside and out."

      September 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
      • Gwel

        Ask any french chef if you should wash a raw chicken. At best he will laugh ... I mean a really french one. Someone who knows what he's talking about. Oh, thousands of french people eat some Roquefort (which is basically cheese with mold) on a daily basis without anyone dying because of it.

        What do you think is best, keeping the germs and bacterias on the meat and then killing them by cooking the meat or spreading it all over whatever you put the meat on ?

        (I don't mean to be mean, just explaining the way I think. Sorry for my bad English)

        September 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • CC

          What you may not realize is that if the entire French population is doing this, then the French population has built an immunity against some of the diseases floating around. Similar to the English and Native Americans when they encountered small pox; having never encountered the disease, the Native American population was almost wiped out while the English carried on as normal. There is a similar issue with milk in America; Amish communities are allowed to drink unpasteurized milk since that is what the community is raised on, but the FDA prohibits the sale of raw milk to outsiders because it would cause a lot of problems for the rest of the American population.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  46. Jeff

    Washing chicken is moronic! Unless you use a germ killing agent like chlorine bleach, (which, in the least will alter the tase and expose us to more deadly poisons), washing just moves the bacteria around. So, washing moves the germs from the front to the back, and from the left to the right...same result, no benefit!
    The tiniest amount of THOUGHT would make all people see that washing chicken is nonsensical and of absolutely NO benefit.
    If the heat from cooking does not kill all the bacteria, including the ones rearranged by "washing", then we're all dead anyway!
    Come on people! THINK outside of what you were taught when you were young and impressionable!

    September 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  47. ieat

    my mom taught me to blanch the chicken before cooking. This way you get rid of whatever bacteria/germ/dirty crap/surface fat on it.

    September 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Legally Blonde

      My momma always taught me to wash the meat thoroughly, rinse it twice and hang to dry. Daddy said you just have to make sure it doesn't freeze on the line in the winter cause it might break when you bring it in.

      September 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  48. Karl

    I wash my chicken with hot water and lime juice for two reasons. One to get rid of the raw chicken smell and to prep it for seasoning.

    September 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  49. amy

    wash, choke, repeat.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
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