Can Washing Chicken Reduce Salmonella?


Are you washing your chicken before eating it? Unlike beef, pork or even fish, chicken recipes almost always suggests a quick rinse and pat dry before starting the cooking process. But is this chicken bath necessary? We investigate below.

Ever since Julia Child’s roast chicken recipe suggested washing chicken before preparing it, many of us have been following her instruction. After all, chicken is linked to a great deal of foodborne illnesses, particularly salmonella. When it comes to cooking chicken, it’s definitely important to wash all of your equipment — including your hands — after having touched the raw meat. But does washing chicken actually helping anything?

Not according to a study by Dr. Jennifer Quinlan of Drexel University. According to her research, washing chicken is actually counter-productive. The rinse doesn’t actually remove any of the bacteria on the chicken, which are all killed when the chicken is cooked properly anyway (something that Jacques Pepin told Julia during one of her shows).

In fact, washing chicken can spread the harmful bacteria on the chicken to other parts of your kitchen–sink, sponge, wash cloth–where it can cause serious damage.

The other issue with washing chicken is that you’re adding water to the skin, something that will affect the crispiness of the skin. Instead of washing chicken, simply blot it dry with a paper towel before cooking it, which will remove any remaining blood as well as moisture, and ensure a perfectly crispy skin. As long as it’s cooked to 165 F internal temperature, your chicken will be safe to enjoy.

So choose your favorite chicken recipe, like our stuffed roasted organic chicken recipe or our chicken under a brick. Save the leftover bones for chicken stock, and rest assured that it’s temperature, not rinsing, that will make your favorite fowl safe to enjoy for the whole family

Related on Organic Authority:

Salmonella Risks Hidden in Chemical-Coated Chicken

3 Chicken Mysteries Solved

Evil Chicken: Poultry is the Top Culprit for Food Poisoning

Image: jinnyjuice

Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.