To Wash, Or Not To Wash Meat Before Cooking

So we’ve been told (for several years in other countries, by the looks of it) that we should not wash meat before cooking because it doesn’t “clean” it, it just spreads the bacteria and gunk onto other surfaces in the kitchen, like the sink, and our hands, and the chopping boards, and the window sill, or anywhere the droplets might go.

Various health bodies also acknowledge that those of us who either:

  1. Have always washed meat while preparing it, and
  2. Those of us concerned with the MASSIVELY IMPROVED FLAVOUR (ahem) from doing it…

…most likely will ignore their advice and carry on washing meat.

And yes, I fall into the latter category: I will continue to wash meat that I’m preparing because it just tastes so much better.

Poultry, like chicken, when you wash it, you get rid of the slimey layer on the skin – which is actually the bit that grosses out most people (usually women – sorry ladies) – after it’s been washed tastes much milder and less gamey, making casseroles, stews, or even alone, and makes it smell better when cooking.

As for the red meats, it gets rid of some of the surface blood in the meat, which also changes the flavour by making it less strong and meaty (although in some dishes, you really need that bloody-meated flavour).

However, on hearing this advice, I will be tightening up my kitchen hygiene around meat some more:

  1. I’ll buy dedicated chopping board/boards for meat – Lakeland had a great collection to help with this.
  2. All chopping boards will always be washed in the dishwasher on a hot cycle.
  3. If for any reason a board can’t be washed in the dishwasher, I’ll always use gloves (so I can handle hotter water) and wash with paper towels, and leave it to dry naturally on the rack.
  4. I’ll always ensure that the water tap is running gently to minimise splash.
  5. I’ll always ensure to wash out the sink after washing meats and washing up.
  6. I’ll be more mindful of splashes from the sink and clean it up with kitchen cleaner.
  7. I do this anyway, but I’ll always wash my hands after handling meat, splashback or raw eggs.

This is all providing that the pathogens don’t somehow become airborne on contact with water.

If the pathogens DO become airborne on contact with water – PLEASE TELL ME – and, well, ok, fine – I’ll consider sacrificing taste for hygiene if that’s the case.

So far I haven’t seen any kind of guideline or proof that the pathogens become airborne from contact with the water.  I imagine that if the tap was on too strong *then* the pressure might cause tiny airborne droplets of water to linger in the air, much like when the toilet flushes, but this can be easily prevented by ensuring that the tap is running gently with minimal splashback.

BUT – until I see any proof that suggests this, I’ll be washing my meat and enjoying my dinner, thank you.

HOWEVER!

Just because I am willing to take the risk even with this information DOES NOT MEAN that you must/should do the same.

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

If you were already squeamish handling meat, you’re probably already actively avoiding it and have found an awesome new reason to keep avoiding it – that’s cool.

If you were cleaning it before – have a think about what you want to do with these new guidelines (well, ok, not new, but y’know) – do you carry on as before?  Do you tighten up your hygiene?  Or do you just cook straight from the pack with minimal contact?

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

The choice is all yours.

Laughter,

Catherine

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