Rinsing chicken inside and out before cooking has been the norm for many home cooks, an essential step often called for in recipes and passed down through generations. But in fact this actually increases the risk of food-borne illness we're all trying to avoid.
Why Chicken Should Not Be Washed Before Cooking
When you rinse raw chicken, you effectively spread bacteria all over your sink, and those can infect your sponge and dirty your workspace. Yes, fresh fruit and vegetables should be washed with cold water before preparation, but raw poultry should not. The U.S.D.A. has been advising consumers not to rinse raw poultry since the 1990s but, the myth of persists. Don't worry: Properly cooking chicken will destroy any pathogens.
What You Should Do to Prep Raw Chicken
Instead of rinsing raw chicken, start by slitting the chicken’s plastic covering at one end and placing the chicken pieces on a clean plastic board designated for raw meat, in order to avoid cross-contamination. (Then carefully throw away the packaging and any liquid in it.) Pat the meat dry with a paper towel before turning to step one of your prep. If your recipe calls for removing the skin, pat the chicken dry after you've done that. Blotting the excess moisture will ensure that your chicken cooks and turns an appetizing golden brown.
Safe Food Handling for Chicken
1. Keep poultry separate from fresh produce—in your grocery bag, in the refrigerator, and during food preparation—to minimize cross contamination.
2. Wash everything used in food preparation in hot, soapy water. This includes not just knives or other utensils and cutting boards but also counters.