Washing chicken before cooking doesn’t kill bacteria

By on September 2, 2015

Washing raw chicken before cooking has been a common hygienic practice for many. In other parts of the world, chicken is customarily rubbed with lemon or soaked in vinegar due to what many perceive as a way to remove the germs and slime.

Scientifically though, none of these tricks kill bacteria in chicken, according to a study by Drexel University.

Regardless of whether they’re wings, drumsticks or breasts, the chicken parts we buy at supermarkets are all the same. They contain campylobacter or what is commonly known as salmonella bacteria.  The only way to get rid of  bacteria in chicken is by exposure to high heat.

How can this bacteria affect us?

First, by what is called cross-contamination through various cooking utensils we use such as pots, pans, knives, spoons, etc.  Thus, we pollute the entire area of the kitchen and therefore, other foods placed nearby that we eat  raw such as fruits or vegetables.

To show how this happens, here’s a mock infrared animation:

Second, when we undercook chicken, the chance of some bacteria surviving is high.
Be careful when eating yakitori in Japan. The tare or the dark, thick sauce that these chicken in skewers are traditionally basted with, makes it hard to tell whether they have been exposed to high heat long enough.  Watch out when eating yakitori at high traffic areas like matsuris, food festas, etc.  Yakitori vendors could speed cooking up in order to sell more and serve long queues faster.


Ingestion of bacteria could wreak havoc on the gut and result in the following symptoms:

Chronic diarrhea.
Abdominal pain
Fever and vomiting, and death in extreme cases.


About Marlow Hauser