Why You Shouldn't Be Washing Raw Meat

You may be doing more harm than good.

IMAGE Pexels/Fábio Bueno

Chicken is often the one that is considered a food safety nightmare but it's not the only meat that you might be handling wrong. Pork, beef, and yes, even seafood can be handled wrong.  

An avian flu virus that swept through the chicken farms necessitated the culling of infected chickens. This was done because the flu was found to be transmittable to humans. More recently, a similar kind of flu, the African swine flu virus, affected pigs but thankfully, the virus was not transmittable to humans. However, this didn't stop fears of getting sick from eating such meat. 

Are you washing your raw meat? If you are washing your raw meat because you're concerned that the meat you recently purchased is somehow infected or dirty, rest easy and stop. You may be doing more harm than good.

Photo by Pexels from Pixabay
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Here's why: 

Washing or rinsing raw meat does not ensure that the meat will be safer to eat. That's because bacteria and viruses are not killed merely by rinsing it with water. To effectively kill bacteria and viruses such as the coronavirus, you need to either use soap to wash it away or use a chemical such as bleach to kill the bacteria. 

Both of these options are not advisable for use on meat. The chemicals on soap and in bleach are not edible and can even be toxic if consumed, whether in small or in large quantities. 

When you wash meat, the meat is not only to taste blander, but you are also in danger of contaminating the surrounding area around the sink with the water splashes. This is what you want to prevent and by washing meat, you are actually spreading any bacteria onto areas and spots that you may not clean.    

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Instead, you should be practicing safer methods of ensuring your meat is safe to eat.  

If you are concerned about the safety of your meat, this is what you can do safely: 

  1. 1 Patronize meat shops and butchers who keep up to date with their certifications of safety. Meat with safety inspection stamps from the National Meat Inspection Services so you can be assured that the meat you are buying went through proper health and safety inspections.
  2. 2 Always separate your raw meat from other food. Store it in its own packaging so any ready-to-eat food will not be contaminated. Minimize cross contamination as much as possible. 
  3. 3 Once home, place raw meat on the bottom shelf on a tray that will catch any liquid that may accidentally drip from it. 
  4. 4 Ideally, use a separate chopping board used exclusively for raw meat preparation and sanitize both the board as well as the sink and its surrounding area to prevent and minimize cross contamination.  
  5. 5 When ready to cook, cook meat fully to the minimum internal safety temperatures. For most meats, this is at least 145 degrees F or 63 degrees C. For chicken and poultry, this is at least 165 degrees F or 74 degrees C. 
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Staying safe is always a good idea but learn first the best way to you can be safe is the better decision. 

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