The CDC says stop washing your raw chicken, and the internet is divided as usual
Every once in a while, you learn something on the internet that shakes you to the very core of what you thought you knew to be unequivocally true. For many, many people who eat chicken on the reg, today was that day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted a helpful tip about handling raw chicken without spreading disease, and it has the internet absolutely divided.
Apparently, you shouldn’t wash raw chicken before you cook it.
I know, I know. I grew up watching my mother and grandparents giving every breast a good scrub before it went into the pan, and I am shook right now.
I mean, this does make sense when you think about it. Raw chicken can carry a bunch of ugly bacteria (like Campylobacter bacteria, Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria, according to the CDC) and it’s estimated that a million people get sick from food poisoning that comes from poultry every year.
And we understand how germs work. Running lukewarm tap water over raw chicken will do nothing to stop the spread of that bacteria — in fact, it gives it a lot of good chances to spread all over your sink, counters and hands, where it can then spread to other foods that you eat raw, increasing your odds of getting sick. That’s exactly why the CDC says to stop washing chicken before you cook it — because it’s the cooking that kills the germs, and washing it only spreads them around.
But TBH, this is kind of a tough pill to swallow. A lot of people have replied to the CDC’s tweet saying they’ve always washed their chicken, just like generations before them, and they don’t plan on stopping just because one of the foremost disease research facilities in the world told them to.
Nope, some people have always washed their chicken and they will continue to do so, CDC be damned.
In fact, the debate that is now raging in the comments of the CDC’s tweet has revealed that pretty much nobody has any idea what they’re doing with raw chicken. There are a ton of people who think you wash it with vinegar, lemon or lime juice, or some combination thereof, and they are ready to die on that hill.
And at least one person is here for washing chicken, but not in the sink. Only in a bowl, and then only if you throw the bowl away after. How many kitchen bowls are in a landfill right now because of this person?
Despite all the backlash, though, the CDC has spoken.
Cooking the chicken to an appropriately hot temperature to kill all the potentially harmful bacteria it could be carrying is the correct answer here. And again, it makes sense. Tap water isn’t killing any germs, and it isn’t even reaching the ones that could be inside the chicken.
So no matter what you’ve seen family members do with their raw chicken over the course of your life, please don’t wash it, people. Cook it until it’s done and you won’t have to worry about any food-borne illness.
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