Should you wash the chicken before cooking it?

In July 2014, Guardian published Food poisoning scandal: how chickens spread campylobacteran inquiry into poor practices in slaughterhouses has gripped the UK government, forcing it to improve health measures and launch a campaign with one question: do you have to wash the chicken before cooking it? (Maybe you’re doing it wrong).

The report in Guardian said campylobacter caused 280,000 Britons to suffer from stomach infections each year with vomiting and diarrhoea, which in 80% of the time Were related to the chicken.

In addition, the newspaper mentioned that 65% of chickens sold in the UK was contaminated with campylobacteraccording to data obtained from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

We returned to this investigation because during the month of March, in Mexicospecifically in the state of Tlaxcalathere was 3 deaths due to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which according to local authorities would be related to the chicken contaminated with campylobacter.

Image of the campaign promoted by the British government in 2014. (Photo: FSA)

Why don’t you wash the raw chicken?

Food safety authorities around the world recommend that we do not wash raw chicken before cooking because this does not remove bacteria and far from cleaning it, we can spray dangerous germs around the kitchen.

Regarding cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in MexicoDr. Alejandro Macías, an infectious disease expert, shared a video in which he points out that It is not dangerous to eat chicken as long as hygienic measures shown are followed.

“It’s not like that campylobacter it gets into the chicken’s muscles,” said Macías: “It’s in its gut, but when it’s processed for transport and sale, this pollution spreads“.

The expert also explains that many studies show a prevalence of more than 50 and up to 70% e campylobacter IN chicken that is sold. So we should know that if we eat it we should take hygienic measures to avoid it cross contamination.

Also, although campylobacter is the bacterium most closely associated with chickenLETTERS Prevalence of pathogens in poultry meat: A meta-analysis of published European surveyspublished in 2018, reminds us that there can be Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes AND Staphylococcus aureus.

Before you promise to stop eating chicken, you should know that these types of pathogens die at high temperaturesso by cooking it you lose the risk of getting sick (as long as you follow proper hygiene measures).

How should you prepare food to avoid cross contamination?

The risk of cross contamination “It is significantly reduced if foods eaten raw, such as lettuce and other vegetables, are washed and prepared first,” recommends the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA cites a study in which: “Of the participants who quit raw poultry, 60% had bacteria in their sink after washing or rinsing the poultry. Even more disturbing is this 14% still had bacteria in their sinks after they tried to clean the sink.”

Therefore, the recommendation is that the chicken is not washed because we are not removing the bacteria and in fact, we can contaminate our kitchen and other foods. The only what kills these pathogens is high temperaturesso make sure the chicken is well cooked.

Finally, it is important that after cutting or handling any type of meat, including chicken, you wash your hands completely and immediately disinfect your kitchen surfaces and utensils such as cutting boards and knives.

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