Don’t wash raw poultry, just cook it, says USDA

A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that individuals are putting themselves at risk of illness when they wash or rinse raw poultry.

“Our study found that when people wash poultry in a kitchen, they end up cross-contaminating all sorts of places in the kitchen, more so than they would if they just cooked the poultry,” said Chris Bernstein with USDA.

Heat kills the organisms found on poultry, but the surfaces contaminated water can touch aren’t heated to the level that can kill the bugs.

“Poultry may have salmonella on it,” said Bernstein. “It may have another bacterium called campylobacter on it, but proper cooking, cooking poultry to 165 degrees is going to kill any of the bacteria that might be present.”

One of the worst places that the bacteria can end up is on your hands, especially if you don’t wash them properly.

“There are five steps to wash your hands,” said Bernstein. Wet them, put on soap, scrub them for 20 seconds, wash the soap off with water and then dry them on a paper towel or a clean disposable kitchen towel or something like that.”

Almost 99% of the people in the USDA study were not following all the proper handwashing steps.