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The CDC Advises Not to Wash Raw Chicken Before Cooking

Many people are in the habit of washing raw chicken before cooking, even though the CDC warns against doing so.

Raw Chicken

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national public health institute for the United States. It is in the business of keeping consumers healthy and safe. Most of the time, the advice is accepted by the public without hesitation. At other times, the CDC gives advice that is hard to believe. For example, the CDC recently advised consumers on social media not to wash raw chicken before cooking. 

If you ask ten cooks if they wash raw chicken, nine of them will say they do. So, why is the number so high for those who wash raw chicken and so low for people who don't?  

Most modern-day cooks prepare meals the same way they have been taught by their mothers and grandmothers. In other words, the way some people cook is a family tradition.

Reasons the CDC Gives for Not Washing Chicken

The CDC contends that washing raw chicken can do more harm than good. That's because when you wash it, water is splashed onto places and bacteria from the chicken can spread in every direction. The droplets land on the counter, dishcloths, dish towels, cutting board, clothing, and cooking utensils. The bacteria from the chicken could contaminate other foods with campylobacter, clostridium perfringens, and the more familiar salmonella.

Another thing people do that they are not even conscious of is that after washing chicken, they pick up condiment containers with the hands that have touched the raw chicken. Therefore, bacteria from the raw chicken is put on salt and pepper shakers, flour bags, and containers for other seasonings.

It is safe not to wash raw chicken because cooking it will kill any bacteria on the poultry. In case you go against the warning of the CDC and wash your raw chicken anyway, there are some precautions you can follow. 

  • Try not to splash water while you wash your chicken. However, that might be hard to do because the droplets fall when they may. 
  • Make sure you thoroughly wash all surface areas, chopping boards, and utensils with hot, soapy water. 
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for about 20 seconds before touching your condiment containers. 
  • Cook your chicken so that it is done all the way through. A way to test the chicken to see if it is completely done is to cut into the thickest part of the chicken. If it is done, it should be steaming hot and you should see no pink meat. Of course, you can always use a thermometer to see if the chicken is cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees.

What to Do Instead of Washing Raw Chicken

Resist the temptation to wash raw chicken.

Don't be tempted to wash raw chicken.

Even though the temptation is there to wash raw chicken, try to refrain from doing so. Just like you developed the habit of washing the poultry, you can also get into the habit of not washing it. 

There are some valuable tips for handling raw chicken. 

  • Keep raw chicken away from other foods to prevent raw juices from spreading. 
  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling chicken.
  • Don't use the same cutting board or plate for raw chicken and other foods. 
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops thoroughly with hot, soapy water after preparing chicken.

If you are convinced that it is safer not to wash it, it might be a challenge to convince your family that you didn't wash the chicken they are eating. Therefore, let them enjoy the delicious meal without announcing it at the dinner table that you did not wash the meat they are eating.


Do you wash your raw chicken before you cook it? If yes, will you stop doing so after learning that the CDC advises against doing so?

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