I’m Gonna Wash That Chicken Right Out Of My….On Second Thought….

Here at KSS Insurance Solutions we are not just concerned about your health insurance but are also concerned about better health for you. Let’s talk about handling chicken the right way…which I alluded to during my last blog. I had plans to write this before the Labor Day weekend but, alas, I got busy preparing for my own Labor Day fun that I didn’t get around to it. (Nope, didn’t cook chicken, I roasted green chiles instead.) But, it’s not too late as we still have lots of grilling season left and then come the holidays with turkeys roasting in the oven or Cornish hens for those who get a bit fancier with their dishes.

My mom taught me how to cook all kinds of meals and desserts. She was a good cook but of course I always have to add my own twist to dishes…anyway, she was always very conscious about using the correct measuring tool, cooking utensil, and food handling requirements. So if your mom was like my mom you learned to always rinse and dry your poultry (chicken, turkey, game hens, etc) before you cooked with it. (Good thing she never saw my friend and I playing dress-up with the washed chicken – sat it on the side of the kitchen sink, “legs” crossed, wings tucked, a napkin for a bonnet…anyway, I digress…)

Well, the advice of NOT washing your poultry is slowly making its way into kitchen across the nation. I never knew I wasn’t supposed to wash poultry. That goes against everything Julie Childs taught me when I watched her shows! The U.S. Department of Agriculture, kitchen scientists, and safety experts have been cautioning against the practice for many years. Well, that news never made it to my house or Julia Childs’ for that matter. It never dawned on me that as while I was washing my chicken to remove all the bacteria that water droplets splashed across my kitchen counters also contained the same bacteria. Of course, I always washed my counters down after preparing my poultry but still…what unsuspecting tomato or head of lettuce happened to be sitting on the counter waiting to be dealt a bacteria-laden blow by a chicken?

So…according to the food safety experts out there…DON’T wash your bird! Huh? But how do I clean it?! Actually, you really don’t need to clean it. Take it out of its package, pat it dry with paper towels to get the moisture and slime off of it, and cook it til it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. This will kill the bacteria found on your bird. (Note, your paper towels are covered in bacteria so make sure you dispose of them properly with the rest of the bird packaging.) Oh, and make sure you wash your hands and counters thoroughly with warm water and soap.

Now, my question to myself is….can I break my long-standing habit and follow my own advice or will I continue to wash my poultry and hope my tomato is out of the splash zone? Maybe I should go ask Mom…

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