Do You Rinse Your Chicken?

Since I was busy defending the garbage bowl lately, I thought I would address another issue that often comes up about Rachael Ray's kitchen habits.  When Rachael is cooking chicken, she just opens up the package and drops the meat into the pan.  Rachael has been criticized for this on the basis that is is unsafe to do so.  People say that you should rinse the chicken before you put it in the pan and if you don't, you risk contamination from salmonella or other bacteria.  Apparently the idea is that the water will remove the offending bacteria.

Well, I think Rachael heard this criticism enough, so she addressed the question on her show.  Rach's answer was that if there aren't any drippings all over the chicken and if it is just fresh in the package, cooking will kill any bacteria.  She does wash larger birds.  Plus, she noted that if you wash it, you are spreading the bacteria all over your sink and/or counter tops.  That definitely makes sense to me.

I did a little more research on the topic over at Home Food Safety.  Their list of ways to keep chicken safe does not require any rinsing.  Here is the list of how to prepare it safely (check out the full list for tips on buying and storing poultry, too):

  • Wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before, during and after handling raw poultry
  • Use two cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination
  • Use one for raw meats and the other for fruits and vegetables
  • Color-coded cutting boards can help you remember which is which
  • Refer to the Safe Food Handling label on the package
  • The label gives proper cooking and storage procedures
  • Defrost poultry in the refrigerator or in the microwave--never on the counter
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness of your poultry, at least 165° F
  • Cook poultry breasts to at least 165° F
  • Cook whole turkey, chicken to at least 165° F
  • Cook ground chicken, turkey to at least 165° F
  • Don't leave chicken unrefrigerated for more than two hours

For the record, I do the same thing as Rachael and never even knew that some people rinsed their chicken off before cooking it!  It's not something that my parents ever did (although they hardly ever used anything fresh, anyways!).  Do you rinse your chicken?  Would you keep doing so after hearing what Rachael Ray and Home Food Safety have to say?

For helping spread the word about the importance of home food safety, I was entered into a drawing for a $15 Starbucks gift card and an iPad through Summertime Food Smarts,a contest run by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods' Home Food Safety program. Home Food Safety is dedicated to raising consumer awareness about the seriousness of foodborne illness and providing solutions for easily and safely handling foods. Learn more


  1. I usually make chicken breasts and I don't rinse them. They are frozen and individually wrapped anyways, hah. If I'm making a turkey or a whole chicken I will, because I just assumed that was something that you do with whole birds.

    Then I spend half an hour wiping down my sink and counters with sprays and wipes because I'm paranoid that all the gross chicken juice just infected everything. :(

    1. Ha that's funny I am the same way

  2. Ha that's funny
    I'm the same way


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