Washing can spread harmful bacteria from chicken to other foods or utensils in the kitchen and can put you at risk for food poisoning.
“Many people think they should wash raw chicken, but there is no need,” said food hygiene expert Adam Hardgrave. “Any germs on it will be killed if you cook it thoroughly.”
However, if you insist on washing the chicken, new research has revealed the safest way to do it.
Physicists at Montana State University say that keeping meat near the tap under a constant stream of water reduces the risk of the bacteria spreading.
The studio comes in the middle of a fear of salmonella nationwide which forced major retailers including Tesco, Pret a Manger and Marks & Spencer to remove products from their shelves.
Washing can spread harmful bacteria from chicken to other foods or utensils in the kitchen and can put you at risk for food poisoning. However, if you insist on washing the chicken, new research has revealed the safest way to do it
WHAT IS FOOD POISONING?
Food poisoning is a disease caused by the consumption of food contaminated with bacteria, such as salmonella or E. coli, or by a virus such as norovirus.
Raw meat and shellfish, unpasteurized milk and “ready-to-eat” foods, such as soft cheeses, are more likely to be contaminated.
Symptoms usually begin within two days of eating the food.
These can include:
- Diarrhea, which may contain blood or mucus
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of energy
- Sore muscles
Most people don’t need treatment and get better within days.
They should make sure they rest and drink plenty of fluids to combat dehydration.
They should contact their GP if symptoms become severe or do not improve after several days.
Doctors should be advised if the elderly, pregnant women, children, or those with an underlying health condition or weakened immune system are affected.
Food can be contaminated if:
- Not cooked through
- Left too long at room temperature
- Not sufficiently heated
- Eaten has passed its expiration date
- Touched with contaminated hands
- Not stored below 5 ° C
In the study, the researchers tried to figure out the safest way to wash raw chicken.
“The Food and Drug Administration recommends not washing raw chicken due to the risk of transferring dangerous foodborne pathogens through sprayed water droplets,” they wrote in their study, published in Fluid physics.
“Many cooks continue to wash raw chicken despite this warning, however, and there is a lack of scientific research evaluating the extent of microbial transmission in the sprayed droplets.”
The researchers placed the raw chicken under running taps and monitored the splashes of water and bacteria on nearby surfaces.
The results showed that when the chicken was placed 40 cm (15.7 in) under the tap, the water droplets splashed at 22 cm (8.6 in).
However, when the chicken was placed 6 inches (15cm) under the tap, the droplets splashed just 2 inches (5cm).
The flow of water also affected the spread of the water droplets.
When the faucet was turned on with the chicken already under it, the initial burst of water sent the droplets flying.
However, when the chicken was put under the tap when the water was already flowing, the spray of droplets was reduced.
Overall, the results suggest that if you insist on washing raw chicken, you should keep the meat close to the tap under a steady stream of water.
It is also important to thoroughly clean nearby surfaces and keep other raw foods away from the sink.
“Be especially careful to keep raw food away from ready-to-eat foods like bread, salads and fruit,” advises the NHS.
“These foods will not be cooked before they are eaten, so any germs that settle on them will not be killed.”
The study comes amid a nationwide salmonella fear, which has forced major retailers to remove more than 100 products from their shelves.
Officials from the Food Standards Agency (UKFSA) have released a comprehensive list of products believed to have been involved in the fear of contamination, which follows an outbreak at the giant Cranswick food processing plant in Hull.
Cranswick, which bills itself as a producer of 160 tons per day of gourmet cooked chicken for sandwiches and meals, says salmonella was found during a “routine internal inspection.”
The products feared to be contaminated appear to have been used by the dates of 11, 12 and 13 May and tons of food have now been seized and thrown into containers.
The Food Standards Agency advised people with refrigerated products not to eat them.
Officials from the Food Standards Agency (UKFSA) have released a comprehensive list of products believed to have been involved in the fear of contamination, which follows an outbreak at the giant Cranswick food processing plant in Hull
In its statement, UKFSA said: “Cranswick Country Foods is recalling several products containing chicken because salmonella has been found in some of the chickens used to manufacture these products.
“As a precaution, other products are also being recalled as investigations continue.”
It is still unclear whether anyone has gotten sick from the bug, which occurs between six hours and six days after infection.
It causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and in severe cases can cause hospitalization. Around 50 people die in the UK every year.
HOW TO COOK PORK SO IT IS SAFE TO EAT
Pork must be properly cooked to eliminate parasites and bacteria that may be present that cause disease.
It is not necessary to wash raw pork before cooking it as any bacteria on the surface would be destroyed by cooking.
Humans can get trichinosis (caused by the parasite Trichinella spiralis) by eating undercooked pork.
Today’s pork can be enjoyed safely when cooked to a core temperature of 63 ° C (145 ° F) measured with a food thermometer before removing the meat from the heat source.
For safety and quality, let the meat rest for at least three minutes before cutting or eating it.
Food-borne microorganisms found in pork as well as other meats and poultry are Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia enterocolitica and Listeria monocytogenes.
People can become infected with these bacteria by consuming raw or undercooked pork or by cross-contaminating surfaces in contact with food, such as worktops, cutting boards, utensils.
These bacteria are all destroyed by proper handling and careful cooking.
For safety, the USDA still recommends cooking ground pork such as burgers at 71 ° C (160 ° F) and all organs such as heart, kidneys, liver, tongue and finches) at this higher temperature.