Why I still wash my chicken

Alright. So it is inarguably unanimous both here and across the pond that washing chicken does NOT remove bacteria, not even a little bit. In fact, washing chicken probably spreads more bacteria and causes more diseases in households, than if they DIDN’T wash their chicken. The problem with washing chicken isn’t really about the water (well, it is a little bit), but it is more about the people washing the chicken.

Let me explain.

Both the NHS & FDA have staunchly advised against washing chicken because:
1) Washing doesn’t remove any bacteria (even with an acidic accompaniment).
2) The toxins and bacteria IN the tap water actually contribute more potential damage than the bacteria in the chicken.
3) Cooking chicken will destroy pathogens and bacteria in the chicken.

And my personal favourite.
4) Washing chicken can result in chicken water being splashed surreptitiously on other kitchen surfaces and utensils, potentially spreading dangerous strains of bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella.

Here’s what I’m adding:

In addition to reason number 4, I suspect many people use their bare hands (ew) to wash chicken. Even if they wash their hands thoroughly before they start the process, they will then reach for the tap, touch their acidic agent of choice and whatever else and go back and forth between that and the chicken. Nice cross contamination action going on there.

Also, how do you know there isn’t hidden bacteria hiding underneath your fingernails? How do you know there isn’t going to be residual chicken carcass juice all up in your fingernails, if you’re washing and massaging chicken with your bare hands? What if you wear nail polish, and some of it chips in the chicken? What if you wear acrylics, which are more likely to collect dirt underneath, and you’re handling the chicken?

I also suspect some weirdos will not remove jewelry such as bracelets and watches and the real MVP psychopaths keep their rings on.

So many questions.

If you or someone you know commit these offences, please stop, and don’t invite anybody over to your house until you make some changes.

Now, I personally am not against washing chicken. Quite the opposite, because I have noticed there is a distinct flavour/smell present in cooked chicken which hasn’t been washed (I do prefer my home made chicken over restaurant chicken on any given day for that reason). Not only do I wash the chicken, but i marinade it each and every time like clockwork. This keeps my chicken fresh in the fridge for a good few days, and makes it very juicy and delicious once cooked.

Here’s my chicken washing ritual:

1) Prepare a blend of herbs and spices I want to use for my marinade in a small bowl.
2) Remove the lid off my apple cider vinegar bottle and my garlic infused olive oil bottle.
3) Prepare several sheets of kitchen roll which I will later use to pat dry my chicken pieces.
4) Grab a pair of disposable vinyl gloves, put on one side only. Have an additional pair ready on the side.
5) Using ungloved hand, grab another large bowl designated solely for raw chicken and keep to the side. This is what I use to marinade and store the chicken in the fridge. Alternatively, a secure marinating bag is an even better choice.
6) In my clean kitchen sink, I bring a large bowl which is solely designated for handling raw chicken, and carefully put in the raw pieces of chicken using the gloved hand.
7) Using non-gloved hand, turn faucet on low pressure cold water, and direct water into the bowl of chicken, making sure pressure is very weak to avoid splashing.
8) Start pouring in large amount of vinegar steadily into the chicken bowl using ungloved hand.
9) Turn off faucet using ungloved hand, and wash the chicken with gloved hand.
10) Turn on faucet again using ungloved hand, same pressure and temperature as previous, wash & rinse chicken thoroughly using gloved hand.
11) Turn off faucet using ungloved hand, add in more vinegar and wash the chicken again using gloved hand. Using gloved hand, tip all liquid in the bowl out into the sink carefully.
12) Using ungloved hand, turn faucet on one last time using the same settings as before, and rinse the chicken very well using the gloved hand.
13) Turn off faucet using ungloved hand, and finally wear the other pair of gloves.
14) Start carefully blotting each piece of chicken one by one, using the pre-cut paper towels till they are as dry as possible, and putting them into the marinating bowl or bag.
15) Remove and dispose of the gloves.
16) Put on 1 new glove, and using the ungloved hand pour in the garlic infused olive oil and massage well into the chicken using gloved hand.
17) Using the ungloved hand, pour in whatever marinade mixture you have already prepared into the chicken.
18) Put on a glove on the ungloved hand, and really massage in the marinade.
19) Dispose of gloves, and quickly cover chicken bowl twice in clingfilm or carefully seal your bag. Put chicken in the fridge, in a separate shelf from any fruit or vegetables, and ensure you don’t have any exposed food in the fridge.
20) Using washing up gloves, clean utensils used for chicken carefully, not to splash residue. Do not let utensils touch the sink once you start washing them, to avoid recontamination.
21) Once utensils are washed, clean your sink using washing up liquid. Throw away sponge after use.
22) Using disinfectant spray and disposable kitchen roll, clean all surrounding surfaces.


Even though I think my process is very clinical (and super boring), it probably STILL isn’t perfect. But so far, we have not had any problems, and my chicken dinners continue to be delicious and nutritious.

So I guess the conclusion is this: If you love cooking, appreciate details and can be bothered to be meticulous with the cleaning, washing chicken to enhance the experience and flavours is ok.

IF on the other hand, you can’t be bothered, please don’t attempt to wash your chicken, because you’ll be doing more harm than good.

On a side note, remember that eating organic free range chicken bought from a butchers is going to be healthier, tastier and not as ‘smelly’ or slimey as value, battery farmed, antibiotic and hormone pumped chicken from the supermarket.

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