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FDA Says Stop Rinsing Off Raw Chicken…

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. 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.”

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!!!!!!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 :D sorry to be a nerd.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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…

  13. 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.

  14. I’m with Joi! My aunt rinses her chicken in a water/apple cider vinegar mix. I thought that was a bit much.

  15. Hi **waves** I HAVE to rinse off my chicken, cut off the extra fat, and burn off any stray hairs or feathers. If not I can’t eat it.

  16. Better wash that bird! You don’t know whose hands been on it before it came home with you. Just don’t splash bird juice everywhere when you do and we all will live to eat another day :)

  17. My parents are Caribbean and my mother taught me to wash meat in vinegar and water followed by water only; some Caribbean’s use lemon or lime.

  18. My parent’s always washed and soaked their poultry before cooking. They used a salt/baking soda combination. I do the same thing before I prepare my chicken. The chicken packaging usually includes some type of the rendered liquid from the bird which looks just yucky. Years ago I saw a news piece on how chickens were packaged at the plant and the term “feces soup” was used. No question. My bird gets a bath before going into my pot.

  19. For me, cleaning it isn’t about reducing bacteria. I have to rinse it because I remove the hairs from the meat, as well as the yellow coating and sometimes I’ll find the butcher’s hairs are on the meat you never know! I’ve seen it many times. There’s no way I could just cook the meat straight from the package without first inspecting it which includes cleaning it.

  20. I only wash my meat half the time because cooking the meat kills the bacteria not washing it. Besides I don’t want to eat the chemicals people wash their meat in. Why would I want to put my chicken in bleach water. Everyone will have their own opinion on this subject.

  21. I neverrrr knew people rinsed off their meat before cooking it, because my mom never did. First I learned about it was in reading recipes. All raw chicken looks and smells gross to me, whether its been rinsed or not. The quicker I can transfer it from the package to the stove/oven, the better and then I immediately wash my hands, and even then freak about touching the handle, etc. I dont hand wash any dishes, they all go in the dishwasher so I’m not really concerned with getting sick from anything being in the sink. It mostly just seems like more risk..then you have to dab it with paper towels..worry about where to let the paper towel sit, etc. I can see how people would want to get the “juices” off but people really think water is going to get off bacteria? The juice in the packaging can be water from when the meat was previously frozen and then thawed, or its just juice from the chicken that would come out anyways during cooking. Thats another thing — whenever i’ve rinsed chicken and cooked it on the stove, its hard to get all the water off and it ends up in the bottom of pan while it cooks. Okay enough rambling! lol

  22. Me too…all my food get washed off. I just feel better when I do it that way…just me. But great Post Monique!

  23. I’ve seen this debated on many websites and personally, I don’t see the benefit to washing the chicken, or any other meat for that matter. I suppose it’s personal preference. I’ve even seen people who wash their chicken with lemons as opposed to water, though there’s no research to support that the acid in lemon juice kills anything. I just make sure that I cook all my meats thoroughly, wash and sanitize my workspace and my family has been safe.

  24. Nope, whole, ground, pieces..I don’t care… everything gets washed. I usually wash mine in salt water there is a specific basin for it, and I jsut let it hang out in there for a while before cooking. Same for veggies.

  25. I have to wash everything as well and like so many others have said, “you should be disinfecting anyway”. Dr. Oz said using a bleach & water mixture to wipe down everything is a must, so this is what I do. I

  26. My parents cook all the time and never have I seen them wash any type of meat they are about to cook. I never had food poisoning or anything…same goes for my sister and brother. My kids also eat the foods they cook and they have never gotten sick either. Even if you rinse off that film, whatever bacteria or natural bacteria that is on the chicken/meat is still there. Unless you want to sterilize the meat, then you’re sure to totally get rid of any bacteria. Just because you’ve gotten rid of the sticky and slimy film doesn’t mean you’ve gotten rid of any bad bacteria. (yes there is good bacteria, like the bacteria located in our digestive system). Cooking (at the right temperature) will kill pathogens. A very important thing to do that no one has mentioned yet is washing your hands well…using scrub with soap and water is even better. And the soap doesn’t have to be that “antibacterial” soap, either. What should be a concern is bacteria that have spores. Some of those cannot be killed, even when cooking! And if you buy canned green beans, you better do more than just heat it up in the microwave. You need to boil that sucker.

    • Good points that you made in your posts. You’re so right about not using antibacterial soaps. We’ve been led to believe that these soaps are good, when in fact they are more harmful than good. I always wash my meats, sink, and hands very well whenever I’m dealing with raw meat. I don’t use bleach either. Hot, soapy water and homemade cleaners that are made with borax and vinegar and my family hasn’t gotten sick yet.

  27. To tell you the truth I not only rinse my chicken but I have a big container from rubbermaid that I put my chicken in water and a little bit of clorax and salt. I let my chicken set overnight. The clorax is not going to hurt the chicken, I do not put alot in the water. Just a few drops. I have been doing this for years and no one has died from this. After I soak overnight, I pour the water and clorax off the chicken and rinse, dry season and cook.

    • I had chicken that smelled a little funky, I soaked it in cold water with a few drops of bleach, left for about 10 minutes, rinsed and soaked in plain water for a while, tasted fine, no problems whatsoever.

  28. It’s ridiculous for the FDA to even bring this subject up. I’ve seen several documentaries on what goes on in live animal production plants. It’s heart wrenching and disgusting. They act like they are doing us a favor by mentioning this…Do us all a favor and close down these
    contaminated facilities, and support true farming communities.

    • You’re so right! They don’t really care about the safety of the consumers. In my opinion, they only care about the size of their bank account. Those animals are treated horribly, and factory farms need to be shut down as you mentioned in your post. The USDA and FDA are not concerned with our safety, because if they were, then there would be no genetically engineered foods or filthy factory farms. I’m so glad to see someone who feels the way I do about food.

  29. I rinse my meat because of habit, but I’ve noticed we don’t rinse our ground beef before cooking… or do u?

  30. I agree. I cannot see myself not washing anything that I am going to prepare. Cleaning my food is part of the preparation process.

  31. Well, I’m assuming that we clean and disinfect our meat workspace anyways, so why not wash off the chicken? I’m like you, I can’t get past some slimy film sitting on meat *eww. But if you work with raw meat in the kitchen, then there should be sanitization happenin anyways.

  32. Well, I’m assuming that we clean and disinfect our meat workspace anyways, so why not wash off the chicken? I’m like you, I can’t get past some slimy film sitting on meat *eww. But if you work with raw meat in the kitchen, then there should be sanitization happenin anyways.

  33. Ewww…I will continue to wash my chicken prior to cooking. I sometimes even soak my chicken over night in a brine because it tastes better. I like your idea of keeping it contained in a bucket, I use a large bowl.

  34. I can not stop washing off anything that I am going to eat.

  35. I agree with you. I have to rinse off my meats, no matter what kind they are. I don’t trust what the FDA has to say about anything due to the fact that they allow factory farms to be up and running. The reason why E Coli and Salmonella is such a huge problem is because of factory farms and confinement of the animals. I choose to buy my meat from farms that raise their animals humanely. If my chicken isn’t from a farm that raise them on the pasture, then I don’t buy conventionally raised meats. People have to educate themselves and question why foods are infected with these bacteria in the first place. Grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and other poultry is the way to go. I watched a couple of food documentaries that opened my eyes to industrialized foods and I’ll never go back to eating conventional meats again.

    • I believe you have it right. I do the exact same thing.

    • I only eat free range chicken, turkey, and beef. I also have to wash off my meats before cooking them. However, I scrub everything down with Clorox Cleanup after washing…sinks, counters, handles, faucets. I just imagine slimy meat juice on everything and begin scrubbing.

      • I scrub everything as well, but I don’t like bleach because of the toxic chemicals in it, and also because the fumes affect my breathing. I make a homemade cleaner using white vinegar, borax, dish soap, and hot water. If you don’t want to make homemade cleaners, then you can use peroxide. I’ve read online that peroxide kills germs too without toxic fumes.

    • If you wash chicken or poultry you are deliberately contaminating your kitchen, utensils, countertops, floors, walls, and windows. The spray can send bacteria up to four feet away from the sink. There is NO way to prevent contamination and NO way to ensure that you have adequately cleaned the kitchen. More than 3,000 Americans die every year from food poisoning, most caused by foolish consumers who wash their chicken. For the equally foolish reason that they don’t “trust” the FDA.

      • You say that it’s foolish not to trust the FDA, quite frankly I think it’s foolish to automatically trust any agency that tells you what you should or shouldn’t do while allowing certain things to take place. I’ve done enough research to know what works best for me and my family. You have your opinions and I have mine, and I will continue to do what I’ve been doing.

      • I agrees wid chu. Dese people ought be arrested for washin ders chickens. it ought be a felonee! Den we gets dese people off da streets and in da prisins. das my pinion.

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