To avoid nausea, wash your hands, not raw chicken

A new study highlights the importance of hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing your kitchen to reduce the risk of foodborne illness when cooking foods like raw chicken at home.

When evaluating the impact of washing poultry on kitchen contamination, researchers found that more than a quarter of study participants contaminated salad with raw poultry.

Washing raw poultry is not recommended due to concerns that it could accidentally contaminate other foods and surfaces – and increase the risk Food poisoning.

“We wanted to know what impact education would have on getting people to stop washing poultry before cooking and what impact a resulting behavioral change might have on reducing contamination in the kitchen,” says Ellen Shumaker, a consulting fellow at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of the study in the Food Protection Journal.

“We also wanted to get a better picture of why washing poultry, if at all, actually led to increased contamination in the kitchen.”

For the study, the researchers recruited 300 home cooks who said they washed poultry before cooking. Researchers emailed 142 of the study participants food safety briefings, outlining risk reduction measures — including a recommendation not to wash raw poultry during food preparation. The remaining 158 study participants did not receive the training intervention.

The researchers then invited all 300 study participants to test kitchens equipped with video cameras that filmed meal preparation. Participants were asked to cook chicken thighs and prepare a salad. After the chicken thighs were prepared but before the chicken was placed in the oven, participants were called from the kitchen for a brief interview. The contestants were then sent back to the kitchen to cook the chicken thighs, make the salad, and clean the kitchen just like at home.

What the study participants did not know: The chicken thighs were inoculated with a harmless strain of bacteria that the researchers could detect. This allowed researchers to swab surfaces in the kitchen to see if cross-contamination occurred during food preparation and cooking.

As the study participants left the kitchen to conduct the interview, the researchers wiped down the kitchen to identify possible contamination. This process was repeated after each participant had finished cooking the meal and cleaning the kitchen. The prepared salad was also tested for possible contamination.

93% of participants who received the intervention did not wash the chicken, compared to 39% of participants who did not receive the intervention.

However, the researchers were surprised to see that people who washed the chicken and people who didn’t wash the chicken had similar levels of contamination from the raw chicken in their prepared salads. So what’s up?

“We believe lettuce contamination comes from people doing a bad job wash their hands after handling the raw chicken and/or poorly sanitizing the sink and surrounding surfaces prior to rinsing or handling the lettuce,” says Shumaker.

“Regardless of whether people washed their chicken, the kitchen sinks were contaminated by the raw chicken, while nearby countertops were relatively uncontaminated,” says Shumaker.

“This was a little surprising as the conventional wisdom was that the risk of washing chickens was that water would splash off the chicken and contaminate surrounding surfaces. Instead, the sink itself became contaminated even if the chicken was not washed.

“Washing chickens is still not a good idea, but this study shows the need to focus on preventing sink soiling and emphasize the importance of hand washing cleaning and desinfection Surfaces.”

Additional co-authors are from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), RTI International, and NC State. FSIS supported the work.

Source: NC state To avoid nausea, wash your hands, not raw chicken

Dais Johnston

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