A germaphobe’s dilemma: stop washing raw chicken

Over dinner the other night, a friend brought up ongoing public health efforts to get people to stop washing raw chicken because it spreads Campylobacter onto kitchen surfaces. I have to confess that I have been washing, drying and salting a raw chicken nearly once a week for years, following Judy Roger’s (Zuni Cafe) fabulous recipe for roast chicken. We have reported on chicken washing before (see http://microbe.net/2012/11/12/a-microbiology-of-the-built-environment-story-of-the-day-dont-wash-your-chicken/) but washing raw chicken is a surprisingly hard habit to break. There was some more recent press on this topic back in June in honor of Food Safety week (in the Mirror and BBC News), including this “germ-vision” animation of bacteria flying onto kitchen surfaces (not that any self-respecting germaphobe would keep clean plates of food next to the sink). Try the recipe but don’t wash the chicken first. All that salt and cooking will take care of the bacteria.


4 thoughts on “A germaphobe’s dilemma: stop washing raw chicken

  1. I’m going to reply with the same comment I did in the last story… I’ve always though of washing a chicken as being about getting rid of the chemicals that they dip the chicken into at the factory and not about removing the bacteria. So if I still bought chicken (I don’t) then I’d probably wash it anyway.

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Holly Ganz

Holly Ganz is a project scientist at UC Davis working with Jonathan Eisen on the microbiomes of built environments where animals live.