FDA Says Stop Rinsing Off Raw Chicken…

Ok so here’s the debate: To rinse off your raw chicken before cooking or not to rinse off before cooking.

The FDA use to encourage this practice and now they are saying “Washing raw poultry before cooking it is not recommended” since bacteria can not be removed from raw chicken by washing, but only by cooking.

They say that washing just splashed raw juices over the sink, counters, etc, which greatly increases the chances of salmonella and other illnesses through cross contamination.

sink sprayer
A sink hose sprayer should be used to rinse raw meat.

Well what about that icky juice that chicken is sitting in while in the package, you ask? Well the FDA says  “it is mostly water which was absorbed by the chicken during the chilling process. Blood is removed from poultry during slaughter and only a small amount remains in the muscle tissue. An improperly bled chicken would have cherry red skin and is condemned at the plant.”

Ummm….ok here’s the thing. I CAN’T NOT wash off my chicken. It just seems so……wrong!! I totally understand their reason for recommending to not rinse raw chicken off, but I just can’t get passed that slimmy film that is sometimes on fresh chicken. I know it cooks off but perhaps it’s just  mind thing with me.

Salmonella and other food-borne diseases are common, painful and can even cause death in kids, elderly or those with weak immune systems. I got food poisoning from a restaurant once and thought I was going to die! We certainly don’t want to contaminate our familes so what do you do if you just can’t get down with the no-rinse  rule?

Well here’s what I recently started doing:

I have a pail that I use to rinse off my meat. I sit it in the sink and turn the water on really low (so that it doesn’t splash) and rinse off my chicken. I wash my hands over the pail when I’m done washing my chicken and then flush the dirty water down the toilet. To clean the pail I spray it down with Clorox Anywhere Spray, let it sit and then wash it out and flush that water down the toilet. That way everything is contained and nothing gets contaminated.


So what do you think??? Do you rinse or not rinse?



Info: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/chicken_from_farm_to_table/index.asp


  1. Lisa says

    I always rinse off the chicken, turkey, roast, etc, that I’m going to cook. Sure, they wash it at the factory, but if anyone has watched videos of those factories, you also know sometimes the meat ends up being dropped on the floor, picked back up and sent on its way, no “rewashing” done. Rinse the meat, make sure you wash your hands with soap immediately afterwards before touching anything else, and use an antibacterial/bleach spray to clean the work surfaces before continuing on. I’ve done this for years and have never gotten sick from any of my own cooking.

  2. harry says

    chickens are washed at the factory. Rewashing it does nothing but make you feel good. Only cooking it can make it safe to eat. The point is to keep from spreading the bacteria. and the whole bleach bucket toilet thing sound a bit OCD

  3. Danser says

    I will always wash chicken. It is nasty when taken out of the package. I have been washing carefully for years and no one has ever gotten sick. Seems to be some kind of a motive for telling us all of a sudden not to wash.

  4. MayaMia says

    Oh my, first Rachel Ray and now Dr. Oz AND the FDA! The thought of not washing EVERYTHING off before it’s cooked OR eaten raw is disgusting to me and I can’t believe anyone would dare do it OR, suggest someone else do it. It’s making my stomach turn at the mere thought. I’m now wondering how many times I’ve eaten chicken out or at someone’s home and that’s happened. I really think this is a “cultural” thing. Seriously. I can’t imagine any African American cook rolling like this. No offense to any other culture. I’m simply stating what I have experienced all my life and washing meat prior to cooking is my experience “taught, learned, exercised.”

  5. shamack says

    I don’t think anyone believes they are removing bacteria from their chicken by washing it in water. Don’t be ridiculous. I will continue to wash my chicken to remove the hairs, feathers and whatever other debris may be there. You don’t know how many times your chicken was handled and hit the floor before it was packaged.

  6. nette says

    I have cooked for 49 years and never have my children or the adults in my family become ill from my cooking. We have become ill from cooked restaurants foods. I can not imagine not washing my meat and cleaning the areas around the sink and counters. I hope there will never come a time we go oops, maybe we should wash our meats.

  7. says

    Sorry, but I have to wash my meats off and dry them off real good. Not because of the bacteria, but because the meat has been wrapped up in the bloody looking water the comes in the package.

  8. jay says

    i say. if it AINT broke .. dont fix it.. Over the years we heard dont eat lettuce, spinach, tomatos, onions, dont eat beef , pork, ect.. everything we eat has some potential of being contaminated unless you buy it organic i guess. but i’ve never gotten food poisoning from my own food. only from restaurants.. so im not gonna spend any extra money on the chicken having its own bath tub.. i clean my counter tops with bleach anyway. i simply fill my sink with cold water and put a little vinegar (takes off that slime). i put the chicken in it.. massage it underwater with my hands.. drain the water.. remove the chicken and put bleach and /or comet in the sink. poof.. done. no contamination.. but .. i guess if it makes ya feel better to do the steps then.. you should do it.. alot of what we hear and read is full of hype and propaganda. now everybody is gonna go buy a bucket and stock up on bleach. .. cha-ching!!!!!!!

    • says

      I cannot stop laughing at yr comment I literally have tears falling from my eyes….OMG. ….!!! That was hilarious! !! But on the serious side I use vinegar also.

  9. Ja says

    I totally understand the feeling to rinse your chicken off and I do as well but then I get overly paranoid about the cross contamination from splashing and touching things when I touch the raw chicken. I spray antibacterial…turn on the hot water until steam appears…bleach whatever to ease my mind from the thought of contaminating my kitchen.

  10. Chef says

    I don’t believe FDA about not washing our meat before cooking. I will continue to wash my meat because it is SO disgusting just putting a raw meat right onto the stove.

  11. Ny says

    That sounds like a good plan. My only problem is the flushing of the water down the toilet. Our toilets are flushed using drinkable water (unless you have a rain or grey water harvesting system). So with every flush you are possibly wasting about 9l of water (unless if you have a water efficient toilet so this can range from 6-2.6l) on top of the water you used to wash the chicken (efficient taps lose 5l per min when left running) and will later use to wash your hands (another 5l per min) and the sink (another 5l per min) etc. In Developing countries they can live off about 10l of water per day (if available) and we use nearly that much on one flush. We are running out of clean drinkable water so we have to be more sustainable with it 😀 sorry to be a nerd.

  12. KC says

    I never thought about washing my meat as killing the bacteria just handling it is better when washed. In my family we always rub the chicken down with lime as well. The lime does not leave a flavor and it helps with the bacteria. We also do this in a big deep bowl. And we wash the bowl with a paper towel with water and soap, no sponges.

  13. says

    oh, shoot — PS — when I said I turned ’em inside out — i meant the gloves — and I only wash the chicken, etc. with water from the spigot — not the bleach mixture — brining or soaking in buttermilk helps tenderize the chicken — and lemons and chicken just go together — also, I often have a little bowl of really hot water that has a few drops of bleach and dish liquid — I keep it inside the “other sink” and can dip my hand in it quickly to rinse if need be — the plastic glove over the knobs really alleviates that “ick” feeling of turning the water off and on while prepping — and — icky stuff like breading fried chicken, which the gloves just get gooey — those old-fashioned tongs work well, too, for dipping in wet batter — but the running water at a moderate stream helps me think it’s doing something, even if it’s not. I cannot imagine not rinsing the chicken first — : ) (plus I always say a prayer for the chicken who gave its life so that I and my family (including those begging 4-leggers meowing under the table) would have a meal.

  14. says

    I’m a washer, too — but — I buy those packs of 100 little plastic gloves from the Dollar store (Dollar Tree here in Va.) and I plop one over the knob for the kitchen sink and wear ’em to wash and handle all the raw meat — then wash the outsides and turn them inside out and throw away in a plastic grocery bag I use just for this purpose — I knot the bag — I then place that bag into another bag — i have a chest freezer; in the summer I put the two contained bags in the freezer until it’s time for the trash — in the winter if it’s freezing I just throw it in the outside trash container — but — I make my own mixture of 1 part cheap bleach to 4 parts water and everything gets a thorough washing — I ensure both sinks are empty prior to this — and — while I’m washing and prepping the chicken — I have a large pot of boiling water on the stove, and when the chicks in whatever pot or oven, and after I’ve bleached everything down (using paper towels) I pour boiling water down the sink, too. I have a well on my property, so I’m always concerned about ground water contamination — I also do this with all meats — I hate touching raw meat — I don’t wash ground meats, though — or bacon, etc. — your bucket’s a good idea, too, but I’m concerned about polluting the water supply via the toilet — the boiling water down the sink should do the trick : } — I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your website.

  15. says

    My Mom would have a Hissy Fit, if i or anyone of my siblings did’nt wash our meat. any meat for that matter, she would’nt eat it and would say,. I DID NOT TEACH YOU TO COOK LIKE THAT…. so hands down,rinsed meat is the way for me…

  16. MJ says

    There still blood in whatever meats we are about to cook, though. You may be rinsing the surface, but there is still blood in the meat. I’m very sure not all the blood is being washed away. Doesn’t anyone see blood coming out of the meat as it is being cooked?

    This is what my former Microbiology Professor had to say about this: “No, it wont do anything. Just will contaminate your kitchen sink! The best way is to cook them, some people rinse meat because of the blood, but the truth is meat is filled with blood and when you cook it, it will come out.”

    As far as cross-contamination goes, I’m with the FDA on this one. All it takes is one tiny air droplet or splash..even as small as a needle point.

    That’s all it takes for bacteria to multiply. I’ve done this in a lab plenty of times and have seen first hand how bacteria multiplies and what it takes for it to multiply. Worked with Salmonella, E.Coli, Clostridium botulinum, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium perfringens, S. aureus and a few more. The chances for cross-contamination are greater because you are using additional materials that are coming in contact with the meat and you’re moving it around to different areas and places. All it takes is contaminated water, gloves, bucket, an air droplet, etc. that is as small as a needlepoint.

    As I’ve said before also, none of my family members rinse their meats. Never have and none of us have ever gotten sick. We even leave fish out (without additional sauces or gravies on them) out for 1-3 days. Same with rice..and we have never gotten sick. My kids have never gotten sick either. Just wondering if anyone rinses ground meat? That is THE type of meat which bacteria multiplies the fastest.

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