Should you wash your chicken before cooking it?

By  | 

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Should you be washing your chicken to protect yourself from salmonella?

That question is being asked in a lot of Michigan kitchens now that the outbreak has reached our state.

Cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees will reduce the risk of salmonella and other bacteria. But one other common precaution could actually contaminate your kitchen.

"Oh, I absolutely wash my chicken. Every time," Alexander Abbott said.

Others disagree.

"I don't wash it. I just throw it in the pan," Tessa Kelly said.

To wash, or not to wash? Most people News 10 spoke to said they do in fact wash their raw chicken. But experts say this is a huge mistake.

"Fresh poultry needs to be properly handled. Probably number one, don't wash the poultry in your kitchen sink. You're going to spread contamination to other surfaces," Dr. Elliot Ryser said.

Ryser, who is a professor in Food Science at Michigan State, says that most cases of salmonella come from people not preparing their food right, not eating undercooked chicken.

"Cross-contamination of poultry is a huge issue," he said.

Ryser says the bacteria is something that is commonly found in raw chicken and often isn't something you can avoid. But with the outbreak happening across the United States and cases popping up in Michigan, he says to keep yourself from getting sick is simple: wash everything except the chicken.

"You need to wash your hands, sanitize the kitchen area, where the chicken was prepared. Just follow good, hygienic practices in the kitchen," he said,

The outbreak has sickened 92 people, including three in Michigan. The CDC hasn't determined the exact source.

Symptoms of salmonella include stomach pains, fever, and headaches. With this particular outbreak, people have been also getting urinary tract infections. Contact your doctor if you feel you may have been exposed.