Most of us know and adhere to the basics of food hygiene when preparing food. We wash our hands, use a different board for Raw Chicken, check our food is cooked properly and give the kitchen surfaces a wipe before we prepare food or serve dinner.
Most of us are also confident in general hygiene processes, for example we tidy and hoover up things around the house, we brush dust of things and wash toys and things if they get something on them they shouldn’t. Simple right?
So when it comes to raw chicken, most of us would raise an eyebrow and think ‘right I know about the dangers of chicken, we must be extra careful’. However, millions of householders across the states are making a potentially food-poisoning causing error – we wash our chickens.
‘But’, I hear you cry,’ it makes sense to wash them. They might be covered in salmonella bacteria?’ Yes, salmonella is often found on chicken.
‘And salmonella causes food poisoning?’ Yes, it is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the US.
‘So by washing it off I am preventing that and protecting my family? I wash toys under the tap to keep them clean, we wash our hands to get rid of bad bacteria, so how can washing a chicken be bad!’
The problem is that washing raw poultry can cause mass cross-contamination, spreading any bacteria further, onto you, your hands, your clothes, kitchen surfaces and around the sink. What was originally a piece of chicken carrying the bacteria has now become the equivalent of a water pistol laden with bacteria that you have sprayed around your kitchen.
The problem with bacteria is that we can’t see it. If we could, we would be quite shocked. Imagine you had a handful of bubbles from the bath and you blew them off your hand, they would spray and land on anything within a meter or so of you. This is exactly what happens when poultry is washed. The bacteria that you are trying to save yourself from may now be on your hands, on the cutlery you’ll be eating with, in the pre prepared salad and on the chopping board. The bacteria that remain in the chicken will be killed in cooking, but you may still get ill from these other sources.
It isn’t possible to wash the bacteria off completely; the only way to kill it and protect you from illness is to cook it on a high heat all the way through. If you follow these golden rules with chicken you can avoid becoming ill.
• Always check the poultry you are buying is cold to the touch.
• Transport it in a plastic bag to avoid dripping juices onto other food.
• Store it away from other foods in the fridge.
• When ready to prepare it take it out of the fridge and ideally place it directly into the pan – the heat from cooking will kill the bacteria.
• Do not wash it!
• If you need to prepare the poultry first, use a separate chopping board and be extra vigilant of washing your hands after, with plenty of soap.
• Check the chicken is piping hot and no pink remains.
Michelle is the author of dozens of health and fitness related articles as well as websites. She has also released a cookbook for diabetics, and a smoothie recipe book and hosts websites on yoga, cardio health, and strength training. Michelle also studied history and mythology at University and has a fascination for architecture and ancient cultures.
You can find her books on Kobo, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble