Ina Garten says you shouldn’t rinse raw chicken before cooking it

Culinary queen Ina Garten has weighed in on a contentious debate that goes back decades: should you rinse raw chicken before cooking it? 

One of Garten’s role models, the world’s first celebrity chef Julia Child, famously taught that raw poultry should be washed before it’s cooked.

‘I just think it’s a safer thing to do,’ Child says as she prepares a roast chicken in a clip from her show The French Chef, which ran for a decade in the 1960s and 70s. 

But today’s top chefs and food experts agree that the bubbly kitchen personality had it wrong.

Food Network's Ina Garten said she doesn't rinse chicken in an episode of Food Network's Cook Like a Pro on Sunday

Celebrity chef Julia Child, left, famously taught that raw poultry should be washed before it’s cooked, but Food Network’s Ina Garten, right, expressed the opposite view on Sunday in an episode of Food Network’s Cook Like a Pro

A Food and Drug Administration study found that 67 percent of people said they wash raw chicken before cooking it.

Ina addressed the question as she prepped a whole bird on an episode of Food Network’s Cook Like A Pro on Sunday. 

‘I know there’s this whole debate about whether you wash the chicken before you do this, or you don’t,’ she said.

‘I never wash the chicken.’

And Ina’s not the only one preaching against the rinse.

According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, washing meat of any kind is not recommended because the juices can spread to other foods and surfaces causing cross-contamination. 

In fact, research has shown that bacteria can splash as far as three feet out of the sink when you rinse.

A group at New Mexico State University created a media campaign in 2013 to warn people not to rinse their chicken – including an animated video that shows how far the germs spread. 

‘There’s no reason, from a scientific point of view, to think you’re making it any safer,’ Jennifer Quinlan, a food safety researcher with the campaign, told NPR. ‘In fact, you’re making it less safe.’

Some bacteria can lead to foodborne illnesses such as salmonella.

An estimated 48 million Americans experience foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in about 3,000 deaths, according to the National Institute of health. 

Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills. 

The USDA also points out that the reasoning behind rinsing meat is flawed.

‘Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe,’ the website says. ‘Cooking to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary.’

A thermometer should be used to make sure the thickest part of the meat reaches 165 degrees before it’s safe to eat. 

For those who just can’t resist the urge to wash their chicken, USDA specialist Argyris Magoulas offers a safer alternative to rinsing: a water soak in the refrigerator for no more than two hours before cooking. 

Is it safe to put frozen chicken in the slow cooker?

Slow cookers are a kitchen staple for busy home cooks who want to simplify the meal-prep process by throwing everything into one pot and letting the appliance do the work.

In recent years many recipes have simplified the process even further by starting with frozen ingredients – but that may not be such a good idea.

The manual for Crock-Pot’s one- to 3.5-quart slow cooker model has instructions for how to modify a recipe with frozen ingredients by increasing the cooking time and adding a cup of extra liquid.

Similarly, the Instant Pot, a slow cooker and pressure cooker combination device, also says that its not necessary to defrost frozen food prior to cooking, with the caveat that the process may take longer with foods that aren’t thawed.

However, the USDA warns that when meat and poultry are put in the pot while frozen, they spend too much time in what’s called the ‘danger zone’.

Bacteria grow most rapidly when a meat’s temperature is between 40 and 140 degrees.

According to Pamela Ellgen’s The Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook’, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and other dangerous bacteria can contaminate other foods in the slow cooker.

While the bacteria will be killed when the chicken reaches 165 degrees, the toxins they’ve grown can be heat-resistant.

Food experts have varying opinions on whether or not it’s safe to cut out the thawing step when putting together a slow-cooker meal – but it’s likely better to err on the side of caution.