To Rinse or Not to Rinse: The Salmonella Story

Recently a case of salmonella has been reported in the US affecting 300 people across 18 states. Salmonella is a bacteria that can easily be transferred to humans through gestation of contaminated foods. The bacteria naturally occurs in chicken and can be eradicated if the raw product is handled correctly and cooked thoroughly. Producers aim to eliminate the amount of salmonella on raw chicken before shipping out, however, small amounts still remain.  Some people believe that rinsing raw chicken before prepping and cooking further reduces the amount of bacteria, but should you?

Photo by: vikif

Photo by: vikif

According to the USDA, raw poultry, as well as beef, pork, lamb, and veal, should not be rinsed. Certain types of bacteria are tightly attached to the meat and cannot be rinsed or scrubbed off. When you rinse raw meat, bacteria that can be easily washed off may splash and contaminate nearby surfaces. Failure to clean these surfaces can result in airborne illness.

So what are the proper handling procedures?

1. Wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds after handling raw meat or its packaging.
2. Wipe down all surfaces with hot soapy water.
3. Dispose of all liquids used to soak or marinate the meat as it now contains bacteria.
5. Do not reuse packaging materials.
6. Cook thoroughly. Heating raw meat to the proper temperature, whether baking, broiling, boiling, frying, or grilling, kills the bacteria. See this list of minimum cooking temperatures for meat.

By Jocelyn Robancho


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