In the celebrated PBS series, “The French Chef,” the cheery grande dame advises home cooks to wash their chickens before cooking them. "I just think it's a safer thing to do," Child says as she dunks a bird in the sink and gives it a rinse.
But not so fast, say food safety researchers at Drexel University and New Mexico State University. Their new campaign called “Don’t Wash Your Chicken!” advises home chefs not to wash their chickens. As it turns out, trying to wash off foodborne pathogens like salmonella and Campylobacter – which together account for almost 1.9 million cases of illness in Americans each year – does little to eradicate them, and does much to shower them around the rest of the kitchen, not to mention the chef.
Something like this:
"There's no reason, from a scientific point of view, to think you're making it any safer," explains Drexel food safety researcher Jennifer Quinlan, "and in fact, you're making it less safe."
And the science backs her up; the only sure way to kill the sickening germs in chicken is to cook the bejesus out of them.
Food safety experts advise removing raw poultry from the package and placing it straight in the cooking pan; the heat from cooking will kill any bacteria lurking about. Also make sure to clean up well and wash your hands with soap and hot water.
To see how Julia roasts a chicken, see below; just avoid smearing pathogens all over your kitchen with paper towels (avocado green, no less) a la Julia.