A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that washing poultry increases contamination risk.
While washing poultry has long been perceived as a typical and even a necessary part of cooking and meal preparation, an observational study showed that bacteria is more easily spread when contact surfaces are not properly sanitized. Even when consumers think they are effectively cleaning after washing poultry, this study shows that bacteria can easily spread to other surfaces and foods. The best practice is not to wash poultry.
That’s right - ultimately, the best practice is to avoid washing poultry in the first place. If you choose to do so, the USDA recommends considering the following three options:
- 1. Reduce your risk by preparing foods that will not be cooked, such as vegetables and salads, prior to handling and preparing raw meat and poultry. The study showed that 60 percent of participants had bacteria in the sink after washing or rinsing poultry. Concerningly, after attempting to clean the sink, 14 percent still had bacteria.
- 2. Properly clean and sanitize any and all surfaces that potentially came into contact with raw poultry or juices. This includes washing your hands with hot water and soap and lathering for 20 seconds.
- 3. Be sure to cook all raw poultry to a safe temperature that destroys bacteria. The best way to ensure proper temperature is to test the meat with a food thermometer: beef, pork lamb and veal are safe to eat at 145 degrees, ground meats are safe to eat at 160 degrees and poultry is safe to eat at 165 degrees.