Whenever we cook at home, we would always clean everything we would be using for the food— from the knives and pans to the vegetables and meats. But did you know it isn’t advisable to wash raw meats before cooking?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it’s a common misconception that washing raw meat will make it cleaner and safer to eat. (Read: 3 Pinoy Recipes That Do Not Require Pork as an Ingredient)
“Historically, people equate washing to cleanliness. [But] one common mistake that consumers make in the kitchen is washing or rinsing their meat or poultry before cooking it,” the USDA said. That’s because there is the risk of cross-contamination or transfer of bacteria onto other surfaces such as our sinks, utensils, and other food.
“Recent USDA research has found that washing or rinsing meat or poultry increases the risk for cross-contamination in the kitchen, which can cause foodborne illness,” the department said. “It’s time to leave this habit in the past and make washing meat and poultry as outdated as not wearing a seatbelt.”
So what should we do to ensure the safety of our meats and poultry?
Proper Handling of Meat and Poultry
Below are a few ways to properly handle raw meat— and in turn, ensure that they are safe and won’t cause your family any illnesses.
- Ensure that you cook your meat (pork, beef, lamb, and the like) well and that it reaches an internal temperature of 62˚C (145˚F); allow it to rest for around three minutes before cutting and eating.
- Poultry (chicken, turkey) should be cooked to a temperature of 73˚C (165˚F).
- Ground meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 71˚C (160˚F) before serving. (Read: 3 Celebrity-Approved Pasta Recipes That You Should Try)
- Fish and seafood is safe to eat when cooked to an internal temperature of 62˚C (145˚F) or when it’s visually opaque and flaky.
It’s also best to prepare all other ingredients like vegetables and sauces before handling raw meat to avoid contamination. You also have to make sure that you only purchase from legitimate meat shops and stalls in the wet market that has up to date health certificates and National Meat Inspection Services stamps.