Should You Wash Raw Meat? Should You Wash Raw Meat?

Did you know that your kitchen has more germs than your toilet?1 According to the many food and sanitation agencies, the germs in our kitchens can make us sick. Risk of illness can be reduced by proper food handling.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends not washing raw meats. Washing meats in the sink can increase the risk of cross-contamination.

What is cross contamination? It is the spreading of germs or bacteria from food to other foods and surfaces. Water and bacteria from washing meats in the sink can splash onto other surfaces contaminating them. Studies have shown that droplets can even travel up to 3 feet away from the sink! (Read more here) Many people believe that washing raw meats, such as chicken and steaks, will wash away the bacteria. Although some bacteria will be washed away, it may end up on clean surfaces. To avoid dirtying clean surfaces, avoid washing raw meats. Not washing raw meats in the sink will help to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. Bacteria Image: FightBAC

According to Dr. Elizabeth Andress, Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist at the University of Georgia,

“Washing meat will not remove enough bacteria to make it any safer than out of the typical meat package coming from properly inspected processing operations. Even if you wash a few more bacteria away, there are many that won’t be removed and still are taken care of by cooking.  So you are actually increasing the risk of foodborne illness through cross-contamination if you wash the meat.”

To avoid spreading germs while preparing meat, follow these tips:

Be food safe. Separate, don't cross contaminate.

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds before handling
  • Use a clean cutting board and clean utensils
  • Avoid touching other foods or surfaces
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds after handling
When cooking meats, cook your meat to the recommended temperature to kills the germs on and inside the meat. Following these tips and recommendations will help reduce cross-contamination. Tips on properly thawing your meats can be found here. Tips on proper hand washing can be found here. Separate image: FightBAC


temperature danger zone(USDA)

For more information from the USDA on washing meats and cross-contamination, look here!

For more information on food safety tips, head over to the FightBAC! website.



1. BBC

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