Everybody knows that raw chicken is loaded with harmful bacteria like salmonella and listeria. It seems totally logical, then, that the first thing you’d do before preparing the chicken is give it a wash.
Why, then, are health experts imploring us to stop doing just that?
The answer might surprise you. It sure shocked me!
How Washing Raw Chicken Could Kill You
According to a Drexel University study, when you wash raw chicken you actually spread all of its harmful bacteria around the meat and whatever surface it’s on.
Of washing, Jennifer Quinlan – head of the Drexel study – says, “It does not get rid of the bacteria, it does not kill the bacteria. However, there is a chance that it will spray that bacteria.”
This process, says Quinlan, is called aerosolization. It leaves your kitchen looking sorta like this – except, y’know, less cartoonish.
All that green stuff is the bacteria that goes flying when you wash raw chicken.
Remember, bacteria like listeria lives on chicken in abundance and can actually kill you. Seriously, if listeria gets into your bloodstream you have a 1 in 5 chance of dying. Children, with their weaker immune systems, are at an even greater risk.
Look at that – we’ve only spoken about one of the dozens of bacterial species that hang out on chicken and we’ve already mentioned death.
Even if you survive a raw chicken bacteria infection, you don’t get off easy. You could catch campylobacter – another ‘fun’ germ that lives on raw chicken. Campylobacter is a common cause of food poisoning and can cause symptoms like:
Salmonella – which Dr. Quinlan says you should basically just assume is on your raw chicken – can cause these symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps
- Severe dehydration (which can result in hospitalization for children or the elderly)
- Reactive arthritis
Who would’ve thought that washing raw chicken could be so serious?
How To Properly Handle Bacteria On Raw Chicken
According to Dr. Quinlan’s study – which was funded by the USDA – you’re muchbetter off not washing your chicken at all. Instead, just cook it to a minimum internal temperature of 165º F. This will kill any bacteria you’ve got to worry about.
Of course, you still need to be careful about the surfaces that come into contact with the raw chicken. Clean those areas regularly and keep the meat away from other foods.
According to the Drexel University study, 90% of people wash their raw chicken before cooking it. That’s a lot of people who need to hear the truth!
That’s why Dr. Quinlan and co. have put together the “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” campaign!