The habit of washing chicken before cooking it risks contaminating all surfaces in our kitchen, and exposing us to the risk of infection.
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The kitchen is one of the places most at risk of contamination, with dangerous consequences for our health: we buy raw food, loaded with bacteria and other pathogens, and if we do not pay the right attention, the risk of contracting a food infection is behind the ‘angle.
It is the phenomenon of cross contamination to which we must pay particular attention – that is the passage of pathogens from contaminated foods to other foods in an indirect way, that is through our dirty hands, equipment, utensils.
Raw chicken meat is one of the foods that can most often be transformed into engines of cross-contamination. Many people are used to washing chicken before proceeding with the cutting and cooking operations, but this is a very wrong habit and to be avoided absolutely.
Raw chicken, in fact, is rich in bacteria and pathogens which, fortunately for us, die with normal cooking processes. But be careful to rinse it under running water: splashes of water can carry bacteria to surrounding surfaces – such as the sink or worktop, on our hands, knives and even on our clothes.
Other foods you shouldn’t wash
- Salad in envelope. As we have explained to you in this article, it is a ready-to-eat product as it has been washed through industrial processes that ensure maximum safety for consumers. Washing it with water would expose the product to bacterial contamination.
- Egg. As with chicken, the egg shell is also an ideal habitat for bacteria and pathogens: by washing the eggs with water, we would spread these bacteria on the countertop and in the sink, exposing all our food to contamination. All we have to do is break the egg shells, extract the contents and wash your hands thoroughly before continuing the recipe.
- Fish and shellfish. Even the meat of marine animals arrives in the kitchen carrying its load of germs and bacteria, which would spread over all surfaces if we washed these foods under running water. After handling the fish, remember to wash your hands to minimize contamination.
- Mushrooms. Fungi are nothing more than small “sponges” that originate from the soil and that also absorb bacteria and microbes from it. In addition, they absorb large amounts of water and this affects their texture and flavor. So, instead of washing them with running water, we just rub our mushrooms with a clean cotton cloth before proceeding with cooking.
The advice of the CDC
Il Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a short list of tips to avoid so-called cross-contamination within our kitchen. Here they are:
- Separate raw meat and fish from the rest of the food when you go shopping: carry a paper bag that you will then throw away.
- Keep raw meat or fish and eggs separate from the rest of the food in the refrigerator.
- Never wash chicken, turkey or other poultry under running water.
- Have one cutting board for cutting raw meat and fish and another for cutting bread, cheese, fruit, and other foods that don’t need cooking.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds after handling raw meat or fish.
- Wash utensils, cutting boards and worktop with hot water and detergent after handling raw meat, poultry or fish, or after using eggs.
- Use separate dishes for raw meat and cooked meat; this same rule also applies to poultry, fish and crustaceans.
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