To wash or not to wash? CDC says don’t wash chicken before cooking, but Twitter ain’t havin’ it
What?!? Even though it runs counter to what generations of families have done with their birds, the agency advises different. Still, many swear by what their grandmothers taught them
After much debate about whether or not Black folks have been right all along to rinse their raw chicken, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention has decided to chime in. And from what CDC experts are saying, maybe that tradition of rinsing raw chicken in the sink may not be such a good idea.
“Don’t wash your raw chicken!,” the CDC tweeted April 26. “Washing can spread germs from the chicken to other food or utensils in the kitchen.”
— CDC (@CDCgov) April 26, 2019
The CDC went on to elaborate that the juices from raw chicken, which is known to have bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella and clostridum perfringens, could easily contaminate countertops as well.
“Many Americans wash their protein and know how to clean their kitchen afterwards to kill germs if any have spread,” @maracharese wrote. “Also, in my family, we don’t cook unless the kitchen is clean so there would be no utensils in the sink to speak of.”
Surprised at the passionate response to their tweet, the CDC urged people to take food safety seriously.
We didn’t mean to get you all hot about not washing your chicken! But it’s true: kill germs by cooking chicken thoroughly, not washing it. You shouldn’t wash any poultry, meat, or eggs before cooking. They can all spread germs around your kitchen. Don’t wing food safety!
— CDC (@CDCgov) April 29, 2019
Much of Black Twitter in particular gave the CDC a mega side-eye when it saw the tweet, with many swearing by washing with lemon, lime or vinegar, then wiping down countertops being sufficient to prevent the spread of germs.
Leaving these right here. pic.twitter.com/5ADC8gp5U1
— AMW? (@MarWilks) April 28, 2019
Oh no, I will continue to wash it then soak with salt and lime juice thank you
— A-A-Ron ?? (@RICHinLOVE_) April 26, 2019
Sorry, I follow the rules of my 92-year old mother’s kitchen. They haven’t failed me yet.
— Myrna Manners (@myrnamanners) April 27, 2019
But is there a safe way to clean chicken?
The CDC tweeted that cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit will kill harmful germs and help prevent food poisoning. They also suggest the following steps to prevent food poisoning:
- Place chicken in disposable bag before putting it in your shopping cart or refrigerator to prevent cross contamination. Also wash your hands 20 seconds after handling raw chicken
- Do not wash raw chicken and use a separate cutting board
- Never place cooked or fresh food on a cutting board used for raw chicken and always wash any kitchen item that has come in contact with raw chicken
- Use a food thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked to the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, if cooking frozen raw chicken in the microwave, handle it as you would fresh raw chicken and follow cooking instructions carefully
- If you think chicken you have been served at a restaurant is undercooked, send it back for more cooking
- Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within two hours or within one hour is the temperature outside is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit
Although it is tradition in Black cultures from Southern, to Caribbean to African and South American to wash poultry before preparing it, the science differs on that. The lone risk of spreading campylobacter, a bacteria that can spread from the liver and intestines of an animal to other parts of its body when slaughtered, is high when splashing from washing occurs. Germs can spread much farther than a kitchen countertop when this happens. Further, because the bacteria can be found within the meat as well as on its surface, washing is not enough to actually kill it, only heat will.
Campylobacter causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, and can be particularly dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, according to the CDC.
But many voicing their opinions on social media still insist that they will continue to wash their chicken as they always have.
What say you, @theGrio fam? Will you continue washing, or is it better to just throw your chicken over a flame? Tell us in the comments below.