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Don't Wash Raw Chicken Before Cooking, Says CDC

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To avoid Salmonella, do not wash raw chicken. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on handling and cooking America's favorite meat.

Washing Raw Chicken Can Do More Harm Than Good

In a tweet sent out on April 26, the federal public health agency warned consumers about the dangers of washing raw chicken. They explained that contrary to what the common assumption suggests, washing raw chicken does not really get rid of the pathogens that live in the meat. Instead, the unnecessary process can possibly spread bacteria and cause food poisoning.

"During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops," the new guideline reads.

Uncooked meats should be handled carefully because, often, they carry nasty pathogens. Chicken, in particular, is usually contaminated with Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Clostridium perfringens bacteria — all of which causes foodborne illnesses.

The Department of Agriculture has, for years, been discouraging washing or soaking raw chicken. Only heat can kill the pathogens hiding in raw meat.

However, the advice was met with criticism. On Twitter, plenty of consumers expressed disagreement with the guideline and said that they will continue washing raw chicken before cooking.

How To Properly Prepare Chicken

Instead of washing, concerned consumers should place raw chicken in a disposable bag before storing it in a refrigerator to prevent its juices from contaminating other foods and beverages. It is also important to use a separate cutting board for uncooked poultry when prepping for meals.

The CDC also recommends proper handwashing with soapy water before and after handling the raw chicken. Utensils, including knives and board, should be cleaned as well.

When cooking, make sure that the chicken has an internal temperature is at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If chicken appears uncooked, send it back for more cooking.

After a meal, the leftover chicken should be refrigerated within two hours.

Symptoms Of Food Poisoning

The public health experts warned that children younger than 5 years old, adults above the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with a compromised immune system are most vulnerable to food poisoning.

Symptoms of food poisoning include high fever, diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting, and dehydration. If any of the symptoms appear, it is best to immediately seek help from a healthcare provider.

The CDC estimates that 1 million people in the United States get sick from improperly handling and consuming raw/undercooked chicken.

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