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CDC Warns Consumers to Avoid Washing Raw Chicken or Other Poultry

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is getting some strong reaction on social media after advising people to not wash raw chicken.  In a recent tweet, the CDC urged consumers to avoid washing raw chicken saying that "During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops."

According to the CDC, raw poultry is often contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria like Campylobacter, and, less frequently, Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens.

Eating undercooked chicken, or anything contaminated by raw chicken and its juices can lead to food poisoning, the CDC warns.

The USDA, which has for years advised against rinsing or soaking chicken prior to cooking,  says any bacteria on the raw chicken, like salmonella, ride misting water droplets out from the sink in a process known as "aerosolization," splattering the food-prep area in a 2-3 foot radius.  

On the CDC's own website, it lists its top 10 tips to avoid salmonella poisoning and one of the tips in bold is: Do not wash raw chicken.

However, the tweet caused quite the debate online.

The CDC responded three days later saying: “We didn’t mean to get you all hot about not washing your chicken! But it’s true: kill germs by cooking chicken thoroughly, not washing it. You shouldn’t wash any poultry, meat, or eggs before cooking. They can all spread germs around your kitchen. Don’t wing food safety!”

But if you've been rinsing your chicken your whole life, don't feel too bad: A Drexel University survey found 90 percent of Americans do the same, legendary chef Julia Child among them, NBC News reported.

The CDC has more details on salmonella prevention on its website.

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