Digital Exclusive: USDA warns consumers not to wash raw poultry or meat before cooking


SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The USDA warns consumers that washing both raw meat and raw poultry before cooking them is actually bad for your health.

According to the press release, Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety stated, “Cooking and mealtime is a special occasion for all of us as we come together with our families and friends. However, the public health implications of these findings should be of concern to everyone. 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.”

During the observational study the USDA performed, it was discovered how easily bacteria were transferred from different surfaces if those surfaces were not cleaned and sanitized efficiently. In fact, 60% of participants who washed their raw poultry had bacteria in their sink afterward and 14% still had bacteria in their sinks after cleaning and sanitizing their sinks. Another result was 26% of the participants had transferred the bacteria onto their ready to eat lettuce salad.

The USDA has come out with three ways to prevent illness when cooking with raw poultry or raw meat.

  • Prepare noncooked foods like veggies and salads before handling or preparing raw poultry and meat.
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize any surface that has potentially touched or been contaminated from raw meat and poultry or their juices.
  • Destroy any illness-causing bacteria by cooking meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature
    • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal 145° F
    • Ground beef 160° F
    • Poultry 165° F

Carmen Rottenberg of the USDA’s Food and Safety and Inspection Service wants to remind everyone that everyone plays a role in preventing illnesses coming from food.

Rottenberg stated, “Please keep in mind that children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk. Washing or rinsing raw meat and poultry can increase your risk as bacteria spreads around your kitchen, but not washing your hands for 20 seconds immediately after handling those raw foods is just as dangerous.”

The press release can be found here and more information on the study can be found here.

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