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Do I Need to Wash Meat Before Cooking?

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  • Do I Need to Wash Meat Before Cooking?



    Washed means clean. Usually, this logical chain is not in doubt. We shower, wash clothes, do wet cleaning, and wash vegetables before slicing our salad. It seems that everything that comes into contact with water is cleansed and gets freshness.

    A 2019 experiment showed that washing raw meat or poultry carries a risk of intestinal poisoning.

    Three hundred people were divided into two groups and offered to cook a chicken dinner.

    Previously, the meat was artificially populated with marked E. coli.


    One group was instructed not to wash chicken thighs before cooking. Another was left without instructions, and more than half of the participants rinsed the chicken first.


    As a result of the control, the meals of the "clean" cooks were full of the very same E. coli.

    Surprisingly, bacteria were found in 20% of those who did not wash meat.

    It turned out that not everyone knows how to properly disinfect their hands, work surfaces, and utensils, which is why microbes get into ready-made food.

    Click image for larger version

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    "Cleaned" sink in normal light (left), the same sink under the light that reveals contaminant (right)


    14% still had bacteria in their sinks even after they washed and disinfected them.

    Most often, along with food in kitchens, there are not harmless salmonella, norovirus, campylobacter, and toxoplasma. When we hold a piece of meat or poultry under running water, these bacteria, along with small droplets, spread to everything around.


    This is how we fail in the pursuit of cleanliness.


    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) - the curator of the experiment - suggests that washing meat is an outdated habit: "Cooking to the right temperature (whether frying, baking, broiling, boiling or grilling) kills germs on meat and poultry, so washing these products is risky and not necessary."


    If you want to get rid of the slime of raw meat, or if it has some really dirty spots, you can use a paper towel.


    The USDA offers three rules for the safe preparation of meat dishes.


    1. First the salad, then the meat. If you cook something that is not cooked first, there is less chance of transferring bacteria from “dirty” foods to clean ones.

    2. Wash and then disinfect. Immediately after processing meat, you need to take care of the sink, cutting boards, countertops. After - wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap.


    3. Cook at the right temperature.


    Lumpy beef, pork, lamb or veal - at 145 °F (63 °С)

    Minced meat - at 160 °F (71 ° С)

    Poultry in any form - at 165 °F (74 ° С)


    Besides meat and chicken, it also makes no sense to wash mushrooms and eggs. But vegetables and cans are best brushed well before use.

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