It's almost time to start cooking! Do you believe that it is better to wash your chicken before cooking it like you would wash your rice? You are mistaken. Chicken should not be washed, neither with water nor with any other product. Why should this bad habit be stopped? Here is the explanation.
Why shouldn’t chicken be washed?
Since we don't really know what our chicken has been through on the way to us, it is very tempting to wash it before cooking it, just as we do with our fruit and vegetables. But you shouldn't. Raw chicken is very fragile and likely to retain a large number of bacteria in its flesh, not all of which die during cooking. These bacteria are already present when you buy your piece of meat from the supermarket or butcher. If you run your chicken under water or soak it in a bowl, you run the risk of spreading this bacteria, increasing the chances of getting food poisoning or nasty bacterial infections like salmonella or E. Coli. Not to mention the fact that bacteria can grow in your sink and surrounding areas, increasing the chances of cross-contamination.
How should your chicken be cleaned?
If the prospect of having a meal teeming with bacteria that cannot be seen with the naked eye scares you, there is a way to ‘wash’ your chicken and limit the risk of infection. You can do this by using the juice of a lemon and rubbing the different parts of the chicken with half a lemon. As you probably know, lemons have many benefits in cooking and for one’s skin. One of them is that it has very powerful antibacterial properties that help to fight against infections. If you don't like the idea of using lemon, some people prefer to use vinegar to achieve the same results.
How to avoid cross-contamination?
Whether washed or not, raw chicken comes with its share of bacteria. To decrease your chances of getting sick, here are a few things you should definitely do to make your food as hygienic as possible:
- Defrost the chicken by putting it in the refrigerator
- Do not put unwrapped raw chicken on the counter or kitchen table
- Wash your hands with soap before touching any other food, or use gloves
- Use utensils meant only for chicken (cutting board, knife, fork), or wash them before using them on other foods
- Properly clean and/or disinfect surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken
By doing this, you limit the risk of transferring bacteria from one food to another and thus contaminating the entire meal. Finally, to ensure that the chicken is completely free of bacteria, make sure it is cooked thoroughly. An undercooked chicken is a chicken that can make you sick. And in times like these, when the world is crippled by a virus, it would be better to avoid triggering a health emergency in your own home.