Do you wash the boneless, skinless chicken breasts you’re making for dinner before you begin the cooking process?
You could be making a dangerous mistake, according to researchers at Drexel University and the University of New Mexico. The researchers
Raw chicken can harborillness-causing bacteria that won’t be killedwith washing, the researchers write. In fact, washing the chicken can just spread the bacteria around your kitchen.
Skip the rinse and go straight to the pan. As long as the chicken gets hot enough to be fully cooked in your oven or pan, you don’t have to worry about the bacteria, the researchers write.
UNM and Drexel received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Integrated Food Safety Initiative to launch their “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” campaign, which has a number of videos and recipes to help you remember that thorough cooking is the best way to kill bacteria on chicken.
What kind of bacteria lives on raw chicken? Consumer Reports magazine tested hundreds of grocery store chicken breasts last year and found that 97 percent harbored illness-causing bacteria like E. coli,salmonella, campylobacter, staphylococcus aureus, enterococcus, and klebsiella pneumoniae. The chicken was from all kinds of stores, from big box to smaller markets, and included some organic and antibiotic-free brands. (Read the full Consumer Reports article here.)
The bacteria, which may live inside the chicken during its lifetime, can get spread to the surface of the meat during the slaughtering process, Consumer Reports writes.
You can ensure your chicken is safe to eat by checking that it hits an internal temperature of 165 degrees during the cooking process, according to the USDA. To ensure that the chicken has hit that temperature, stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, away from bone and fat.