That’s right—you’re not supposed to wash your chicken. According to USDA, rinsing raw poultry doesn’t kill off any bacteria but instead spreads it all over your sink, hands, and kitchen.
Now, a new anti-chicken-washing crusade is sweeping the Internet, thanks in part to Jennifer Quinlan, PhD, a food safety researcher and associate professor at Drexel University. Her new video campaign called “Don’t Wash Your Chicken!” shattered everything we thought we knew about poultry prep.
Prevention’s Mandy Oaklander: When I saw your “don’t wash your chicken” message, I have to say I was delighted. It cuts out a step, and you almost don’t have to touch it now.
Dr. Jennifer Quinlan: I know! One of my vegetarian colleagues was joking that she’s going to start eating chicken again just so she can not wash it.
MO: So when did it come to your attention that people were bathing their birds?
JQ: The USDA recommendation is not to wash raw chicken, but in our focus groups, we were hearing over and over again that people wash their chicken. In fact, 80-90% of all consumers, minority or not, were telling us they washed their chicken.
MO: Do people think it’s gross that you’re saying not to wash chicken?
JQ: It’s really mixed, I won’t kid you. Some people are happy not to do it, since it lets them skip a step. Others say, “I always did it, I’m always going to do it.” If you feel strongly that you’re getting rid of something that you’re going to taste, you might not be as likely to follow the “don’t wash” advice.
MO: Are people getting sick from chicken-washing?
JQ: Unfortunately, we rarely know a direct cause and effect with foodborne illness. What we do know is that raw poultry is pretty commonly contaminated with both salmonella and campylobacter, and these two pathogens are the leading causes for foodborne illness. It’s thought that cross-contamination