myth buster

Why You Should Never Wash Raw Chicken

Chicken can be baked, barbecued, broiled, grilled, roasted and sautéed, but whatever you do, do not wash your raw chicken!

Last year, Canadians ate 34.6 kgs of chicken per person, making it Canada’s favourite meat with 38.1% of total meat consumption.

It’s obvious why we love it so much. Chicken is a great source of protein, it is low in saturated fats, extremely versatile, and just about every country on this planet has a famous chicken recipe. It can be baked, barbecued, broiled, grilled, roasted and sautéed, but whatever you do, do not wash your raw chicken! 

Why Can’t I Wash My Raw Chicken?

One of the world’s most beloved chefs, Julia Child, believed in washing raw poultry, and while we don’t make it a habit of questioning the wisdom of “The French Chef”, she wasn't alone in her misconception. Until a few years ago, many chicken recipes suggested rinsing the meat before cooking. Yes, raw chicken could contain bacteria, but research has shown that washing raw poultry increases the chances that foodborne pathogens could be spread all over your clothing, hands, work surfaces, and cooking equipment in the rest of your kitchen.  

What Bacteria Lives on Raw Chicken

Bacteria are everywhere, and while most are harmless or even beneficial to humans, others can make you sick.

Salmonella and Campylobacter are the most common bacteria that could be found on raw chicken. Some other pathogens include:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • E. coli
  • Enterococcus
  • Klebsiella 

Anyone can get a food-borne illness, but children younger than 5 years of age, adults over 65, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are more likely to develop something serious.

How else can I prevent food-borne illness?

Cook your chicken all the way through! Safe cooking temperatures kill all bacteria in the meat. The best way to determine if chicken has been cooked correctly is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature and helps make sure the meat is perfectly cooked every time.

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