Washing raw chicken on the sink could make you sick. According to a new study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rinsing it cold could potentially spread harmful bacteria onto kitchen counters, even on already cooked meals.
Mindy Brashears, a deputy undersecretary at the USDA, said that “a lot of people dress their salads around the sink, so it’s cross-contaminated.” The agency has collaborated with the North Carolina State University to investigate how people in the U.S. prepare raw meat and how it affects our health.
The researchers enlisted the help of 300 people to prepare uncooked chicken and salad in test kitchens at N.C. State. Some of them were instructed to avoid rinsing the raw meat, while another control group cleaned it the traditional way.
Out of the 183 participants that washed their chicken on the sink, 54 of them contaminated their salads with bacteria from the raw meat. Brashears noted that most people would have “been peeling vegetables and drop it into the sink,” with the harmful microorganisms potentially spoiling it.
Some of the participants rinsed their raw chicken by soaking it in the sink either with soap, vinegar, or lemon juice. Ben Chapman, a food safety expert at N.C. state, said that “these are horror stories from a microbiological standpoint.”