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Do You Need to Wash Chicken Before Cooking?

Two raw chicken breasts sit on a wooden cutting board.

There are a lot of food safety measures to remember when cooking. Some of them, however, might not actually be all that safe. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounds cooking chicken.

While many recommend washing chicken before cooking, this food safety myth is just that—a myth.

The idea appears to have originated with Julia Child who recommended washing chicken in water before cooking. While an icon, she was wrong, and the Centers for Disease Control has officially weighed in on the practice.

According to the agency’s website, washing raw chicken can cause contamination of other areas of your home—like your kitchen sink—as well as utensils and any other dishes nearby. Essentially, you’re “rinsing” bacteria right into your sink and anything inside of it. If splashing occurs, your countertops are in danger as well.

After you handle raw chicken, you should be sure to thoroughly wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, and when preparing it, be sure to use a separate cutting board and utensils and don’t place it near other foods.

If you’re worried about bacteria being left on your chicken if you don’t wash it, don’t be. Cooking your chicken to the proper temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit internally) will kill anything that could potentially cause foodborne illness.

The next time you’re making a delicious chicken dinner, skip that poultry wash.

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