Why do black people wash chicken before cooking? There is a perceived notion among black people that washing chicken makes it clean. The black community believes that fresh chicken contains poo, dirt, and sawdust. In contrast, the CDC recommends not washing fresh chicken as it spreads bacteria throughout your kitchen or house.
It’s natural to rinse anything you want to cook, especially meat and vegetables. It is probably a habit in the black community to wash chicken before cooking it.
Probably your granny or mum washed or rinsed chicken before cooking it when you were growing up if you are black. You’ll likely follow their example if that’s the case.
There’s no doubt in your mind that they are washing off germs. But science says you’re misinformed. It wasn’t until 2019, however, that black people realized that washing or rinsing chicken before cooking was a mistake.
Why does the CDC caution against washing chicken before cooking?
There are two problems with washing chicken. First of all, by washing the chicken, they’re contaminating the sink and everything in it. Salmonella is present throughout the chicken, not just on its surface, so washing won’t help.
What is Salmonella Contamination?
Salmonella, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), is responsible for more foodborne illnesses than any other pathogen. Chicken is a significant source of many bacteria. Salmonella is found in about 1 in every 25 packages of chicken at the grocery store.
Contaminated chicken can make you sick if it isn’t properly cooked or if its juices leak in the refrigerator or go on kitchen surfaces and then get on something you eat fresh, such as salad or vegetables.
Cooking chicken to a safe internal temperature of 165°F gives consumers assurance that germs and viruses are eradicated during the cooking process.
Cultural Reasons why black wash their chicken
Most black people wash their chickens out of habit. It’s habitual. For years, elder generations have bathed their chickens, thus the practice was simply passed down.
During slavery, African American families were frequently forced to feed their families using less acceptable foodstuffs passed down from their slave masters. Slave owners would typically take the more desired portions of animal protein for their meat consumption. The remaining scraps were subsequently used as the primary source of food for the blacks.
Pig intestines for chitterlings, oxtail butts for oxtails, pig feet, chicken and turkey necks, hog jowls, and other items are examples. To be direct and honest, these parts of the animal stink. It’s understandable why Blacks would want to thoroughly wash all of this stuff.
Black folks are also accustomed to spending a significant amount of time cleaning collard greens, mustard greens, black-eyed peas, beans, and other vegetables. Because they are grown in soil and on the ground, these products must be thoroughly washed. If you don’t wash your greens, bugs and dirt may end up in your pot liquor broth. We’ve all heard the stories, and many of us have made the same mistakes and suffered the consequences ourselves.
Another reason black people wash their chicken is that they are concerned about where it has been, who has handled it, and how it has been treated. We’ve all seen footage from inside abattoirs farms and manufacturing plants. It’s not always a beautiful sight. People want to wash their chicken to get rid of any surface dirt and grit.
How Do Black People Justify Washing Chicken?
Many people believe that washing poultry is necessary to remove fat, feathers, and yellow surfaces. They further claim that after finishing, they will merely bleach and sanitise the surfaces.
Many people also prefer to rub lemon juice and/or vinegar on their chicken. I’ve also heard of folks cleaning their meat with soap.
The following are some instances that may help to explain why black folks wash fresh chicken:
1. Poop bits
Poop bits, for example, are one of the pollutants that could be detected on a chicken since it was cut open and its innards were removed, and that’s what’s in those guts.
2. Human fingernails
Your supermarket chicken likely arrived in bulk, then was set into styrofoam trays and priced at the store. Since you’re not sure if the workers were wearing gloves 100% of the time, black people perceive there could well be fingernails, hairs, or other such evidence of their handling.
Sawdust has long been used on the floor of traditional butcher shops to absorb drips and keep customers from slipping. In smaller markets, if a piece of chicken falls to the floor, it is frequently picked up and packaged with the assumption that you will wash it before eating it anyhow.
Why you should not wash chicken before cooking?
Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) cautions:
While some may feel that washing chicken may help remove pathogenic bacteria, the CDC warns that doing so increases the likelihood of becoming infected with pathogenic bacteria. Campylobacter and salmonella are examples of pathogenic bacteria.
You will contaminate the sink, the counter, your clothes, and surrounding food, putting yourself and your family or guests at risk.
It should be noted that poultry packed in EU-compliant nations does not need to be cleaned because it is already clean. Furthermore, any bacteria on your skin will be spread around your kitchen by washing.
Furthermore, if there are any bacteria on the skin, boiling temperatures will kill them significantly more effectively than washing. It will be clean after a few minutes of being over 72°C.
Raw chicken, including the package, should have little interaction with anything in your home. According to some studies, up to 75% of chickens sold in shops and 10% of the exterior packaging are contaminated with campylobacter.
Other studies have found that as few as ten germs can cause sickness in people. There are probably thousands or millions of bacteria on the chicken, so 10 isn’t much.
All of this is especially concerning because campylobacter infections are on the rise and have become increasingly antibiotic-resistant, putting an increasing strain on the healthcare system.
While campylobacter might cause minor illnesses, it can also lead to fatal consequences. Even in otherwise healthy and fit people, neurological disease is a possibility because the body overreacts to the bacterium and begins killing its nerve cells.
Furthermore, even in the absence of neurological issues, campylobacter infection can wreak havoc on a person’s digestive tract, and it can take years for it to return to normal. Campylobacter has been demonstrated in studies to dramatically alter gut flora and can stay in the gut for months, offering another danger for subsequent transmission.
How to cook raw chicken
Place the chicken in the oven right out of the package for optimal protection against germ spread. When you heat it above 73 degrees Celsius, all of the germs die.
While salmonella requires this temperature, campylobacter dies at temperatures lower than 73 degrees Celsius. After that, properly wash your hands with warm water and soap. Then, using the packaging or the chicken, clean all of the surfaces.
What is the CDC Guidance on handling fresh Chicken?
Here are a few more tips from their guidance:
- Place chicken in a disposable bag before putting it in your shopping cart or refrigerator to keep raw juices from getting onto other foods.
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling the chicken.
- Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken.
- Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or another surface that has previously held raw chicken.
- Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing chicken and before you prepare the next item.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
- If cooking a microwaveable meal that includes frozen raw chicken, handle it as you would fresh raw chicken. Follow cooking directions carefully to prevent food poisoning.
- If you think the chicken you are served at a restaurant or anywhere else is not fully cooked, send it back for more cooking.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, like a hot car or summer picnic).
The CDC provided this guidance to prevent Salmonella contamination.
Step-By-Step Guidelines on Handling Raw Chicken
To cut down on the risk of spreading harmful bacteria, follow these steps when preparing raw chicken:
- Always keep raw poultry stored on the lowest shelf of your freezer or refrigerator. That way, none of the juices potentially carrying harmful bacteria can drop out of the packaging and onto other food.
- Be sure to wash your hands both before and after handling raw poultry.
- If you still insist on washing your chicken, don’t use high-pressure water that will splash all over your kitchen when rinsing your chicken. That was the concern of the researchers. You should also dry it on paper towels before frying, or you’ll have splatter from the moisture.
- Use a separate cutting board for your raw poultry than for any other food, especially produce, to limit the potential spread of bacteria.
- When cooking poultry, use a clean meat thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit per FDA recommendations. For safety reasons, be sure to check the temperature at the thickest part of the meat, as that’s the slowest to cook to the necessary temperature. You don’t want to risk infection by eating any undercooked meat. And, of course, be sure to wash the meat thermometer before and after every use.
- Be sure to clean and sanitize any surfaces and utensils that might have come in contact with raw poultry before preparing other foods.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do Jamaicans wash chicken?
The consideration of its purpose is related to washing for the removal of bacteria or washing as a part of the preparation process to remove unwanted matter. Most Jamaicans, and other Caribbean nationals, would have been taught to clean and wash meats and poultry before cooking.
Why do people of colour wash their chickens?
This is because germs on raw meat can spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces and make people sick. Thoroughly cooking meat and poultry will kill bacteria, so washing is not necessary.
Do chefs wash chicken?
For years, both the CDC and USDA have been advising home cooks not to wash or rinse their raw poultry. However, the idea of rinsing chicken is still debated among many pros.
Does the CDC recommend washing chicken?
Do not wash raw chicken. During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops. Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken. Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or another surface that has previously held raw chicken.
Do restaurants rinse chicken?
Most managers said their restaurants had a cleaning policy for equipment and surfaces used when preparing raw chicken. Most of these policies included the three steps recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): washing, rinsing, and sanitizing.
How do you clean raw chicken?
Avoid rinsing chicken, soaking chicken, using vinegar to clean chicken, or using soapy water to clean chicken. If you use paper towels to pat dry the meat, throw that paper towel or paper towels away immediately, then wash your hands.
What happens if you don’t clean fresh chicken?
Washing chicken, even with a slow stream of water, can cause dangerous germs to splash from the raw meat onto other surfaces. These germs can then get onto other foods, like lettuce, that will not be cooked to kill germs before eating.
Now it’s your turn…
Washing your chicken may seem counterintuitive to some, but it can raise your risk of sickness.
Bacteria on its surface can spread in tiny droplets, contaminating surfaces, equipment, and other items in your kitchen.
Note that the bacteria present are killed by properly cooking chicken.
Also, remember to wash your hands before and after handling raw chicken, and use separate chopping boards and utensils to prevent bacteria from spreading to ready-to-eat meals.
The option to wash your chicken is a personal one. Nevertheless, keep in mind that doing so may transmit bacteria in the home.
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