Raw chicken must be washed before frying. At least that’s what many cookbook authors and chefs think. In the USA, the “Don’t wash your chicken” campaign wants to show that washing doesn’t help against salmonella and other germs – on the contrary.
Claudia Schuller from the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) sees it similarly. Your authority recommends a core temperature of at least 70 degrees over a period of ten minutes in order to kill the pathogens – even normal rinsing with boiling water would not help. “If you take the chicken out of the refrigerator and put it in the pan straight away, you are on the hygienic side. Then there is not the slightest reason to wash it,” says Schuller.
Washing your chicken thoroughly inside and out before roasting it seems to be almost the law among TV chefs and cookbook authors. The American nutritionist Jennifer Quinlan now wants to ban this step from the kitchen. She started the “Don’t wash your chicken” campaign to draw attention to a widespread error. At least in terms of hygiene, washing raw poultry is of no use. Instead, germs such as Salmonella or Campylobacter are only spread additionally in the kitchen by the splashing water.
“When you wash your chicken, the chances are that the bacteria will spill through the kitchen and onto you,” says Quinlan. The germs still adhere to the meat itself.
The “Don’t wash your chicken” campaign was created as part of a research project at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Quinlan and her colleagues looked for food hygiene risks in the US – and came across the bad habit of washing raw poultry. Quinlan estimates that around 90 percent of US citizens wash their meat first before putting it in the pan or oven. With Youtube clips and photo stories, she now wants to show that this only makes things worse.
Claudia Schuller thinks the campaign from the USA makes sense, but it is also somewhat exaggerated. “Of course you can wash your chicken when you feel more comfortable. There is nothing wrong with cleaning properly afterwards,” says the expert. She recommends cleaning the sink and the area next to it with detergent after rinsing the meat and drying them with a clean cloth.
And Schuller also has a tip for further processing: “Of course it would be optimal to process the vegetables first and then the chicken, but the chicken takes longer,” she says.
That is why it is important not to cut the remaining ingredients on the same board and with the same knife as the poultry and to wash your hands thoroughly in between. Particular caution is required when handling poultry meat, i.e. chicken, duck, goose or turkey – it is more likely than other types of meat to carry Salmonella or Campylobacter pathogens, which can cause gastrointestinal diseases.