How to wash chicken to avoid food poisoning

One of the most frequent mistakes in homes is washing the chicken before cooking it. Far from what many people may think, this increases the risk of food poisoning

Many people may think that washing chicken is good. Nothing is further from reality. Washing raw chicken increases the risk of food poisoning.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has long warned that washing chicken before cooking increases the risk of spreading campylobacter bacteria on hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking utensils, kitchen by the splash of water drops.

Learn how to wash chicken to avoid food poisoning

However, many people continue to make the same mistake.

When you put the chicken under the tap, it is common for it to end up splashing everything around it. In this way, the bacteria can end up passing into our body through, for example, a knife that we had near the sink.

Not everyone thinks about this. According to the FSA, 44% of people in the UK wash chicken before cooking. The most cited reasons for doing it were to remove dirt or germs, or because they had always done it.

Read: How to wash chicken safely and limit the spread of bacteria

Campylobacter enteritis is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Especially when traveling, which has led to it also being known as traveler’s diarrhea.

The infection is usually due to the consumption of raw poultry, fresh vegetables or unpasteurized milk.

This bacterium is spread by eating or drinking infected food and, according to the MedlinePlus site, can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.

How to remove bacteria from chicken

“Chicken naturally has a certain number of bacteria and the best way to eliminate them is through the cooking process,” explains Professor of Microbiology Uelinton Pinto, from the Food Research Center of the University of São Paulo (FoRC-USP), in a recent interview with BBC Brazil.

According to the expert, the key is to cook the meat and eggs well. Ideally, the core of the food should reach a temperature of at least 70 °C. This ensures that the majority of microorganisms have been eliminated. One way to be sure is to use specific cooking thermometers.

If, despite this recommendation, you would like to wash the chicken before cooking it, it is important to try to do it very carefully. Without opening the faucet too much to avoid splashing onto nearby objects.

How to wash chicken safely and limit the spread of bacteria
The CDC notes that raw chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria.
Photo: Shutterstock

Aftermath of infection

Most people are only sick for a few days, but it can cause long-term health problems.

Irritable bowel syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which attacks the peripheral nervous system, can result from infection with this bacterium.

It can also cause death. People most at risk are children and older adults.

Normally the treatment for an infection with this bacterium consists of drinking plenty of water; eat small portions of food throughout the day, rather than large amounts at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; eating a diet high in potassium, as well as eating salty foods.

However, each case may vary, so it is always recommended to visit the doctor.

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