/ Don't wash your chicken say the experts

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Ben Sharp - on 16 Jun 2014

My Gran always said when you've got a chicken that's going a bit funky, just give it a wash and it'll be'right.

Washing chicken's probably unnecessary unless you get it from a smaller producer but I can't get my head round why it's so dangerous, and why modern humans are incapable of washing meat without killing themselves.

It seems pretty anal to recommend people don't wash chicken in case the water from the meat "contaminates the sink" or splashes on the work surface and then for some reason instead of wiping it up you rub your sandwiches in the chicken juice and get infected by campylobacter, one of the shittest, weakest bacteria around that gets killed by freezing, can't survive in room temperature, is killed once it's cooked above 48degC and is killed by the anti-bac we all slather our work surfaces in. Salmonella's in like 6% of UK chicken, yet a lot of people treat it like toxic biohazard waste, scrubbing chopping boards with bleach and throwing sponges away that have touched raw chicken. I think we're anal enough about chicken and when you look at other countries attitude to food (especially meat) then you look at us where half the population is terrified of cooking chicken I wish they'd just shut up about how deadly it is, it's just chicken. If you eat a lot of undercooked chickens you'll get ill eventually but you'd still have to be unlucky to get ill from eating chicken that was a bit bloody (not recommending eating bloody chicken...but it's never done me any harm ;-)
Post edited at 08:02
Sally Bustyerface - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:


Is the thread title a euphemism?
Queenie - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I ate some roast chicken that was undercooked due to the giblets bag being left inside. Salmonella poisoning ensued and was a real shitter, pardon the pun. It took a year to feel right again. I'll carry on being paranoid about raw/undercooked chicken if you please :p
wintertree - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I never wash chicken. Come to think of it, I never eat chicken. In a world full of pigs, sheep, cows, deer, wood pigeons, pheasants, bison and myriad other beasts whose flesh has wonderful, intrinsic tastes, why would I go to the effort of preparing and cooking a chicken?
nathan79 - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

The don't wash it advice is pretty sound, I stopped doing it long before they started advising not to, mainly because it's an unnecessary step.

Weak as you say it may be, Campylobacter isn't fun even if you're healthy and if you're immunocomprimised/young/old then it's potentially very serious.
MonkeyPuzzle - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Agree, but you should be pouring boiling water over it anyway, if you want really crispy skin.
Darren Jackson - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

This is how I like to do it. A bit messy, but it's best to be safe?

http://tinyurl.com/pbge2gu
paul mitchell - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

But I thought one should always wash one's cock.....
Philip on 16 Jun 2014
I never wash my chicken. But I do unwrap it in the sink and chuck the sprig of rosemary, that Packington shove in it, in the sink with all the rest of the wrapping from the butcher.

Then I plonk it on the vegetable trivet, wash my hands and empty the sink. I think the danger is that in washing the chicken, water sprays everywhere and you won't clean it all up.
Dispater on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I've had salmonella food poisoning and meningitis in the past.

I'd rather have meningitis again, if forced to choose.

In reply to Ben Sharp:

Campylobacter is the issue rather than Salmonella. It wouldn't win much in bacteria top trumps, but it manages to survive and make people ill.

Washing chicken seems anal to me.
Irk the Purist - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Dispater:

Presumably you didn't have bacterial meningitis then? After all, it kills and permanently disables even healthy people who get prompt treatment. Please don't trivialise meningitis.
Dispater on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

You should re-read your own profile.



Philip on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

You must be the only one who read that post as "meningitis is trivial" rather than what I thought the poster meant "food poisoning is as non-trivial as meningitis".
ow arm - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:
but I always wash my chicken? shampoo and conditioner, she lays better eggs that way...
Post edited at 13:24
lost1977 - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Dispater:

not had salmonella but had bacterial meningitis and i doubt i could ever be persuaded to have that again. had dysentery and i would chose that over meningitis
AMorris - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I have had Campylobacter twice and Salmonella once, none of them were fun. I felt like I was going to die when I got Salmonella and I am in perfect health, so I don't think it can be trivialised like you suggest it can. Also the point about cooking freezing and anti-bac'ing is true in that it kills the bacteria but be aware that it does nothing to the bacterial toxins that they secrete, it is more than possible that even if you kill all the bacteria in that lovely breast you have been keeping aside for a week you can still succumb to food poisoning due to ingestion of the toxins, though obviously no infection will be established so it wont last as long.
Irk the Purist - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Philip:

But comparing it to food poisoning is trivialising it. If I stuffed my face with raw chicken I'd expect to become well acquainted with my toilet and maybe a hospital. But I'd be extremely unlucky to have long term consequences. If I got meningitis there would be a good chance I would be permanently disabled, brain damaged or dead, even if I was treated promptly.

I am known to be sensitive to this but since I lost my brother to it that can be forgiven. I also get a bit preachy but when we're battling to get a vaccine introduced, it doesn't help if people think meningitis is something you can shake off with a dose of honey and lemon
Queenie - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:


> I am known to be sensitive to this but since I lost my brother to it that can be forgiven. I also get a bit preachy but when we're battling to get a vaccine introduced, it doesn't help if people think meningitis is something you can shake off with a dose of honey and lemon

That's understandable. There's nothing quite like having close contact/ experience of such illnesses to have an affect on one's perspective, and give rise to strong feelings on such matters.
Timmd on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:
I'm not an expert, but isn't cooking chicken thoroughly more important than washing it, with the heat in the oven presumably killing anything on the chicken?

Washing it sounds kind of weird, what would it remove which cooking doesn't kill?
Post edited at 14:48
Durbs on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I do wonder who these chicken-washers are.

I don't know anyone who washes it, yet BBC reckon 44% of people wash their chickens?

Mentalists.
ewar woowar on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Sally Bustyerface:

> Is the thread title a euphemism?

Just about ruined my keyboard with Ribena!
In reply to AMorris:

I don't think either Salmonella or Campylobacter produce toxins, either within food or within the body. Could be wrong though.
Skol on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I always wash mine, or it tastes fowl.
ablackett - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

My mum used to be a food tech teacher and she told stories of kids putting minced beef into a sieve and washing it. Bloody mad, all the flavour would be washed away.

People wash chicken because they have been told to by their mothers and aren't clever enough to realise it's a waste of time at best, and a risk of splashing bacterial water over the kitchen at worst.
ceri - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Wish I had a picture of when I bathed one of the chickens...

OH had campy, he ended up in hospital, I understand it wasn't very nice.
I don't see why you would want to wash a chicken, there's no way it will get all the bacteria off and obviously massively increases the risk of spreading the bacteria to other parts of the kitchen, as well as leaving you with a soggy chicken. Very odd.

PS to the person who said "there are other tastier animals": try free range, slow grown, not tesco smart price, then it tastes of something :)
In reply to Skol:

> I always wash mine, or it tastes fowl.

That's just corny.

As a method of reducing the risk of food poisoning, washing your chicken is well down the pecking order. You should definitely cook it properly though, or who knows wattle happen.
Skol on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> That's just corny.
Don't get in a flap

> As a method of reducing the risk of food poisoning, washing your chicken is well down the pecking order. You should definitely cook it properly though, or who knows wattle happen.

Will henny oven do? Fu-Colonel, I rooster just cook it in my Beako

chris_s - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I have never washed a chicken in my life and had never even heard of the practice before today. How many people wash their chickens?
Jimbo C - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I would never even have thought about washing chicken. It just doesn't make sense. Anything living on the surface of the chicken dies 2 seconds after it hits the hot frying pan.
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DaCat - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Dispater:

> I've had salmonella food poisoning and meningitis in the past.

> I'd rather have meningitis again, if forced to choose.

I've also had meningitis and salmonella and I would have salmonella any time over meningitis. I think it depends on the complications from either illness... both can be deadly and both can leave permanent problems. My husband got salmonella at the same time as me and complications left him with permanent liver damage.
Bob_the_Builder - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Surely if you feather the tap the water need not splash all over the kitchen?

I don't wash my meat though. I don't wash my veggies either. I am probably actually already dead...
AMorris - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

I'm afraid you are wrong my friend, many bacteria produce toxins which are associated to pathology both directly and indirectly.
Milesy - on 16 Jun 2014
Heat does not kill endotoxins, which is where reheating food multiple times can kill you even. Bacteria multiplies and multiplies shitting out endotoxins, and even if you heat it and kill those bacteria the toxins are still there and that is what will get you.
Ben Sharp - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to ablackett:

> People wash chicken because they have been told to by their mothers and aren't clever enough to realise it's a waste of time at best, and a risk of splashing bacterial water over the kitchen at worst.

People wash chickens because when you kill an animal it's filthy, if you gutted a pheasant you wouldn't eat it without washing it. Like I said, with packaged chicken you don't need to wash it but it's not stupid, it's just people being used to buying meat that hasn't been through an industrial cleaning process and needs a wee rinse to get the blood, shit and guts out.
Ben Sharp - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

> I never wash chicken. Come to think of it, I never eat chicken. In a world full of pigs, sheep, cows, deer, wood pigeons, pheasants, bison and myriad other beasts whose flesh has wonderful, intrinsic tastes, why would I go to the effort of preparing and cooking a chicken?

Chicken has a strong flavour, pick one with lots of yellow fat and deep, dark reddy flesh. If you buy cheap, pale chicken that's been raised in an indoor cesspit and injected with water then yeah, it wont taste of much but what do you expect? It's hardly an effort either, pick chicken up, take wrapper off, put in oven, wait, take out a cooked chicken.
Tom V - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I agree totally. When I clean a pheasant I always wash out the inside thoroughly.
In spite of previous threads decrying modern slaughterhouse practices, people are now assuming that the cleaning out of the bird will have been done properly wherever it has been bought from. I wouldn't make that assunption and often run water through a bought chicken prior to cooking it.
Baron Weasel - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I like to brine chicken overnight as per Hestons method. Use 60g of salt per litre. Slow roast as low as you dare and use a thermometer to check when the thickest part of the meat hits 63 degrees. Let the bird stand while oven heats up to browning temp then pop her back in until desired colour is achieved.
jkarran - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to chris_s:

> I have never washed a chicken in my life and had never even heard of the practice before today. How many people wash their chickens?

Dunno but I sometimes give it a rinse if it's been sat festering in a plastic tub for a couple of days and smells a bit fusty. I'm under no illusion that I'm de-germing it, just rinsing off the smell and juices from the packaging.

jk
David Riley - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I'd say washing trainers is at least as bad for the same reason.
In reply to Baron Weasel:

If you cook summat to 63 degrees, it needs to be at or above that for about 30 mins. 10 mins at 65, 45 mins at 60, so somewhere over half-way between.

I don't think Salmonella or Campylobacter cause illness through toxins but by causing infection.
chris_s - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to jkarran:

You're braver than me! If a chicken smelt a bit fusty I'd probably bin it...
jkarran - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to chris_s:

All meat smells a bit less than fresh if it's left in packaging for a couple of days.

jk
DaCat - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> People wash chickens because when you kill an animal it's filthy, if you gutted a pheasant you wouldn't eat it without washing it. Like I said, with packaged chicken you don't need to wash it but it's not stupid, it's just people being used to buying meat that hasn't been through an industrial cleaning process and needs a wee rinse to get the blood, shit and guts out.


Chickens are dipped in scalding water for 60 seconds after they have been gutted so they can be plucked easily. Try plucking a chicken or pheasant that hasn't been pre-dipped. They are then plucked with gloved hands.

Guidelines on sending out clean chicken into the meat market are strictly adhered to. No abattoir wants to risk losing its licence. I would however, be more suspicious of Halal meat.

Washing a chicken in cold, warm or hot water only adds bacteria. Cooking a chicken at the correct temperature and ensuring the meat is fully cooked before serving is the safest and most sensible procedure.

Mike Stretford - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to DaCat:

> Guidelines on sending out clean chicken into the meat market are strictly adhered to. No abattoir wants to risk losing its licence. I would however, be more suspicious of Halal meat.

> Washing a chicken in cold, warm or hot water only adds bacteria. Cooking a chicken at the correct temperature and ensuring the meat is fully cooked before serving is the safest and most sensible procedure.

Sounds sensible. I remember one challenging Christmas I was cooking chicken at the sister in laws. She got on one about me not 'washing' the chicken.... only for me to abort the operation an hour later as it became clear her cooker was never going to get up to temperature.
Tom V - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to DaCat:

How come you trust slaughterers to kill and clean a chicken properly but are less sure about halal meat?
ewar woowar on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Tom V:

> How come you trust slaughterers to kill and clean a chicken properly but are less sure about halal meat ritually slaughtered by the same slaughterers in all probability?

FTFY

AMorris - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

I think you should have a scan over these informative articles then:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10455006
Which highlights a clear decrease in virulence of a murine model of Salmonella by knockout of an enterotoxin gene.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9113874
Nicely illustrate the cytotoxic effects of a particular virulence factor in a Salmonella strain responsible for a gastroenteritis outbreak

http://dmm.biologists.org/content/5/4/515.full
Shows the effect of Stn on Salmonella virulence using a knockout model again. Also goes into some detail on the secretion systems Salmonella employs to do damage to cells and establish infection.

I apologise that 2 of them are abstracts only. I also apologise for the nature of this reply but I feel it necessary since what you are telling people is wrong and potentially dangerous.

I hope this doesn't appear too aggressive or condescending in any way.
Tom V - on 18 Jun 2014
In reply to ewar woowar:
Just been arguing the same points with my mates. A surprising number, when I talk about rinsing away residual fecal matter, trot out the "Proper cooking will eliminate any danger from that" response.

I wonder if they'd be so blase if the chef preparing the steak at their favourite bistro was doing it with a brown stained hand because the toilet was low on bog roll and he was in a rush.
Post edited at 00:06

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