Roughly 90% of people wash or rinse their chicken before cooking it to remove any bacteria. Actually that doesn’t work. And the USDA strongly suggests you not do it.
Jennifer Quinlan is a food safety researcher working on a USDA grant, and found that the urban myth or tradition or however you see it – washing raw chicken to remove food-borne bacteria – is completely ineffective and counter-productive. In fact all it accomplishes is spreading the bacteria around the kitchen.
“We know that it doesn’t make it safer from a microbiological principle,” Dr. Quinlan told KTRH. “Running water over a raw chicken that going to have lots of bacteria, come of them pathogenical, is not going to get the pathogens off, it is not going to make it safe.”
Some bacteria will wash off with the water, but the bacteria lives on wherever the water lands – in the sink, splashed on your clothes, splashed on the countertop. So you go from having bacteria localized on the chicken to being all over the kitchen ready to cross-contaminate anything it comes in contact with.
If you cook a chicken thoroughly and correctly, you are going to kill all of the harmful bacteria.
The USDA does recommend that you wash knives, countertops and anything that has touched the raw chicken and its juices to avoid contamination.