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Should Meat and Poultry Be Washed before Cooking?

      The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published jointly every 5 years by the United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The 2005 edition of the Guidelines was released in January 2005 (
      US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture (2005)
      ). Food safety is one of the nine focal areas addressed. The following key recommendations were made to avoid microbial foodborne illness:
      • Clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.
      • Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing foods.
      • Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms.
      • Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly.
      • Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices, and raw sprouts.
      The recommendation that meat and poultry not be washed or rinsed has prompted questions because many people believe washing or rinsing raw meat and poultry makes it safer. Bacteria, if present on the surface of meat or poultry, are easily destroyed by cooking at the proper temperature (

      2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report: Food Safety Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/PDF/D9_FoodSafety.pdf. Accessed July 13, 2005.

      ). Cross-contamination may be more likely to occur if raw meat is washed or rinsed because bacteria can be spread between food, surfaces, or equipment. An information sheet by the Food Safety Inspection Service that addresses misconceptions associated with washing eggs and produce, as well as meat, can be viewed online at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Does_Washing_Food_Promote_Food_Safety/index.asp.
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      References

        • US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture (2005)
        Dietary Guidelines for American. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC2005 (Available at: http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/. Accessed July 13, 2005.)
      1. 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report: Food Safety Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/PDF/D9_FoodSafety.pdf. Accessed July 13, 2005.