Scientists reveal how to safely wash chicken – as salmonella panic sweeps the UK

Both the NHS in the UK and the FDA in the US advise against washing raw chicken, but recent research has shown that 25 per cent of people still do so.

Washing can spread harmful bacteria from the chicken to foods or other utensils in the kitchen and can put you at risk of food poisoning.

“Many people think they should wash raw chicken, but there is no need,” said food hygiene expert Adam Hardgrave. “You will kill any germs on it if you cook it well.”

However, if you insist on washing the chicken, new research has revealed the safest way to do it.

Physicists from Montana State University say that keeping meat near the tap and under a constant flow of water reduces the risk of bacteria spreading.

The study comes amid concerns about salmonella nationwide that have forced major retailers including Tesco, Pret a Manger and Marks & Spencer to remove products from their shelves.

Washing can spread harmful bacteria from the chicken to foods or other utensils in the kitchen and can put you at risk of food poisoning. However, if you insist on washing chicken, new research has revealed the safest way to do it

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, such as salmonella or Escherichia coli, or a virus, such as norovirus.

Raw meat, shellfish, unpasteurized milk, and “ready-to-eat” foods, such as soft cheese, are more likely to be contaminated.

Symptoms usually begin within two days of eating.

These may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • Diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus
  • Stomach ache
  • energy loss
  • muscle pain

Most people do not need treatment and get better within a few days.

They should make sure they get rest and drink plenty of fluids to combat dehydration.

They should contact their GP if their symptoms become severe or do not improve after several days.

Doctors should be aware if the elderly, pregnant women, children, or those with an underlying health condition or weakened immune system have been affected.

Food may become contaminated if:

  • undercooked
  • Leave for a long time at room temperature
  • Not reheating enough
  • Eaten . ‘Used By’ date passed
  • Contact with contaminated hands
  • Do not store below 5°C

In the study, researchers set out to understand the safest way to wash raw chicken.

In their study published in Fluid Physics, they wrote: ‘The Food and Drug Administration recommends against washing raw chicken due to the risk of transmitting dangerous food-borne pathogens through scattered water droplets.’

“Many chefs continue to wash raw chicken despite this warning, however, there is a lack of scientific research evaluating the extent to which microbes are transmitted in scattered droplets.”

The researchers placed raw chicken under running faucets and watched as water and bacteria splashed onto nearby surfaces.

The results showed that when the chickens were placed 15.7 inches (40 cm) under the faucet, 8.6 inches (22 cm) drops of water scattered.

However, when the chickens were placed 6 inches (15 cm) under the faucet, the drops scattered 2 inches (5 cm) away.

The flow of water also affected the spread of water droplets.

When the tap was opened with the chicken already under it, the first spurt of water sent droplets off.

However, when the chickens were placed under the tap when the water was already flowing, the splashing was reduced.

Overall, the results suggest that if you insist on washing raw chicken, you should keep the meat near the tap under a constant flow of water.

It’s also important to thoroughly clean any nearby surfaces and keep any other raw foods out of the sink.

The NHS advises, “Be careful to keep raw food away from ready-to-eat foods such as bread, salad and fruit.”

These foods will not be cooked before they are eaten, so any germs that may come into contact with them will not be killed.

The study comes amid concerns about salmonella nationwide, forcing major retailers to remove more than 100 products from their shelves.

Officials with the Food Standards Agency (UKFSA) have released a comprehensive list of products believed to have fallen into the contamination scare, which followed the outbreak at the giant food processing plant Kranswick in Hull.

Kranswick, which ranks itself as a producer of 160 tons per day of gourmet cooked chicken for sandwiches and meals, says salmonella was discovered during a “routine internal inspection.”

The products feared to be contaminated appeared to have been used by the dates of May 11, 12 and 13, and tons of food has now been confiscated and put in the trash.

The Food Standards Agency has advised people who have products in the refrigerator not to eat them.

Officials with the Food Standards Agency (UKFSA) have released a comprehensive list of products believed to have fallen into the contamination scare, which followed the outbreak at the giant food processing plant Cranswick in Hull.

Officials with the Food Standards Agency (UKFSA) have released a comprehensive list of products believed to have fallen into the contamination scare, which followed the outbreak at the giant food processing plant Cranswick in Hull.

In its statement, the UKFSA said: “Cranswick Country Foods is recalling many products that contain chicken because salmonella has been found in some of the chicken used in the manufacture of these products.

As a precaution, additional products are also being recalled while investigations continue.

It is not yet clear if anyone has developed the disease from the bug, which begins within six hours to six days after infection.

It causes diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and in severe cases it can even cause hospitalization. About 50 people die each year in the UK.

How to cook borek so you can eat safely

Pork should be cooked adequately to eliminate parasites and disease-causing bacteria that may be present.

It is not necessary to wash raw pork before cooking it because any bacteria that may be present on the surface will be destroyed by cooking.

Humans may contract trichomoniasis (caused by a parasite, Trichinella spiralis) by eating undercooked pork.

Today’s pork can be safely enjoyed when cooked to an internal temperature of 63°C (145°F) as measured with a food thermometer before the meat is removed from the heat source.

For safety and quality, let the meat rest for at least three minutes before cutting or consuming it.

Food-borne microorganisms are found in pork as well as other meat and poultry, such as Escherichia coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes.

People can become infected with this bacteria by eating raw or undercooked pork, or from cross-contamination of surfaces that come into contact with food, such as countertops, cutting boards, and utensils.

All these bacteria are destroyed by proper handling and thorough cooking.

For safety, the USDA still recommends cooking ground pork like burgers to 71°C (160°F) and all Organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver, tongue, and frostbite) to this elevated temperature.

Source: US Department of Agriculture

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