WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Individuals are putting themselves at risk for illness when they wash or rinse raw poultry says a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mindy Brashears, the USDA's Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, joined FOX 5 Tuesday and said the major cross-contamination concerns are focused around the sink where the chicken is washed. Brashears said it is important to both clean and sanitize areas of the kitchen that any part of the chicken came in contact with.
The USDA is recommending three easy options to help prevent illness when preparing poultry, or meat, in your home.
1. Significantly decrease your risk by preparing foods that will not be cooked, such as vegetables and salads, BEFORE handling and preparing raw meat and poultry.
- Of the participants who washed their raw poultry, 60 percent had bacteria in their sink after washing or rinsing the poultry. Even more concerning is that 14 percent still had bacteria in their sinks after they attempted to clean the sink.
- 26 percent of participants that washed raw poultry transferred bacteria from that raw poultry to their ready to eat salad lettuce.
2. Thoroughly clean and sanitize ANY surface that has potentially touched or been contaminated from raw meat and poultry, or their juices.
- Of the participants that did not wash their raw poultry, 31 percent still managed to get bacteria from the raw poultry onto their salad lettuce.
- This high rate of cross-contamination was likely due to a lack of effective handwashing and contamination of the sink and utensils.
- Clean sinks and countertops with hot soapy water and then apply a sanitizer.
- Wash hands immediately after handling raw meat and poultry. Wet your hands with water, lather with soap and then scrub your hands for 20 seconds.
3. Destroy any illness causing bacteria by cooking meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer.
- Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops) are safe to eat at 145°F.
- Ground meats (burgers) are safe to eat at 160°F.
- Poultry (whole or ground) are safe to eat at 165°F.
- Washing, rinsing, or brining meat and poultry in salt water, vinegar or lemon juice does not destroy bacteria. If there is anything on your raw poultry that you want to remove, pat the area with a damp paper towel and immediately wash your hands.