Nutrition Matters: Should You Wash Raw Poultry?

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September is National Food Safety Education Month. I thought this would be a great time to highlight knowledge from the food safety community and explore ways on how to prevent foodborne illnesses. We are often told to wash raw foods before we prepare them. For poultry, however; this is not recommended. Yet according to a 2016 national survey, 67% of American’s said that they always wash raw poultry parts before cooking them.

Why raw poultry should not be washed:

  • Washing will not destroy bacteria like salmonella.
  • Instead, washing raw poultry can spread bacteria, contaminating your sink and other surfaces, making them unsafe.

How to prepare poultry safely:

  • Wash your hands, not the poultry before handling.
  • Use a clean cutting board and clean utensils. Make sure all surfaces the raw poultry touches are clean. Always use separate plates or cutting boards for raw and cooked poultry.
  • Cook raw poultry to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. FACT: Cooking is what destroys the bacteria and pathogens in poultry, not rinsing!
  • Refrigerate cooked poultry within two hours, or one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees F. Remember, do not wash your poultry before cooking.

For additional foods, health and nutrition information contact Shelina Bonner, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Greene County Center at 252-747-5831.