Don’t Wash Your Chicken. Here’s Why

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raw chicken legsStudies have shown that 44% of the population washes raw chicken prior to cooking, thereby risking the spread of Campylobacter bacteria on multiple surfaces (hands, clothing, cooking utensils, counter tops and more) via splashing droplets of water.

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Common symptoms of Campylobacter poisoning include abdominal pain, severe diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis, as well as a serious condition of the nervous system known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately one in every 1,000 reported Campylobacter illnesses leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome. As many as 40% of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in the U.S. may be triggered by campylobacteriosis.

The Naked Truth

A single drop of juice from raw poultry can have enough Campylobacter in it to infect a person! The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NAMRS) reported that 47% of raw chicken samples bought in grocery stores tested POSITIVE for Campylobacter. Be aware that in addition to raw meat, the bacteria can also be present in the giblets, especially the liver.

The theory, according to the CDC and the Food Safety Agency, is that approximately 50% of all raw poultry contains Campylobacter bacteria – when people wash it they inevitably spread the bacteria from the raw chicken to nearby surfaces when water droplets bounce off the raw poultry, thereby contaminating the surfaces (including counters, cutting boards, utensils, hands, arms, clothing, etc).

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