Fall is upon us, and when you live in Seattle that means using the grill occurs only when you can assure you won’t be soaked to the bone by the time your food has finished cooking.  That is, unless your BBQ resides in a sheltered area. 

Mine does not reside in such an area, and I was recently left looking for an alternate chicken recipe online.

Many recipes posted online are old family favorites that date back generations.  Some have been updated to include modern food safety advice, such as “Cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.”  Others have not.  

Variations of an outdated and frowned-upon poultry-handling practice are included in the directions for chicken recipes across the Internet:

“Wash the chicken, pat dry.”
“Wash chicken parts. Pat dry thoroughly.”
“Wash chicken well and pat dry.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), washing chicken before it is cooked is an unnecessary step since any foodborne pathogens present on the chicken will be killed during the cooking process.  

In addition, washing raw poultry – or any other raw meat product – is not recommended due to the risk that bacteria in the meat’s juices can contaminate surfaces, utensils, and other foods they come in contact with.  When washing chicken, juices can splash onto kitchen counters where other raw foods are being prepared, resulting in the contamination of ready-to-eat foods.  

While meat and poultry should not be washed before cooking, fresh produce should always be washed under cold water before it is consumed.  Pathogens present on the surface of fruit or vegetables can be removed along with any lingering dirt.  Produce with a firm surface, such as apples, cantaloupe, or potatoes, can be scrubbed with a brush.