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Is it necessary to wash meat?

Meats and poultry contain harmful bacteria on entering the body. Many people wash meat until they fry, freeze, or marinate it, because of this. This is however needless and probably even risky.

Washing meat is generally a bad idea. Washing it will not kill all of the bacteria but will increase the risk that potentially harmful bacteria will spread.

Continue to read more about why washing meat is inadvisable before cooking it below.

Should you wash meat before cooking?

Washing meat
Washing meat can spread bacteria to surfaces or to cook utensils.

The Agriculture Department does not recommend that meat or poultry be washed before cooking.

Washing can be a good way to remove bacteria, in general. Of starters, washing the hands regularly is a good idea to get rid of the bacteria that build up throughout the day.

For example fresh produce, this recommendation often extends to certain foods. Foods such as fruits or vegetables can have soil on their surface and bacteria. Running cold water over fresh produce can help clean out these things and make them ready to eat.

Bacteria found in raw meat and poultry juices. Campylobacter and Salmonella are two forms of bacteria commonly infecting meat and poultry.

Trying to wash the juices off meat can cause these bacteria to spread to other utensils or surfaces for cooking. We may also transfer hands and clothes to a person, or come into contact with other foods.

When this cross-contamination occurs, it’s not always noticeable, so cleaning is difficult. Cross-contamination may allow bacteria to enter the body and cause diseases, such as food poisoning.

It’s hard to remove certain types of bacteria from raw meat and poultry, even by washing them several times over.

Until frying, some people soak the meat in salty water, but this has no effect on food safety and there is still a chance of cross-contamination during this process when handling the meat and water. When people want to cook the meat in a refrigerator, it is easier to do so.

High-temperature cooking of meat and poultry is enough to kill all the bacteria. People can try to cook meats at a minimum internal temperature of 145 ° F. This can be measured with a food thermometer.

Should you wash meat before freezing?

Until freezing, meat need not be washed. Doing so might increase the risk of cross-contamination just as it would until cooking. Cooking, after the meat has defrosted again, will destroy all the bacteria anyway.

Any meat can be freezed. It will be maintained forever by storing food at a constant temperature of 0°F Bacteria will become dormant at this stage, and they are harmless and unable to grow in that state.

Frozen meats are healthy to defrost and consume after any length of time. With time, though, the quality and taste will diminish. Bacteria may grow on it at the same rate as before freezing, after defrosting of the meat. So, cooking and eating the meat quickly after defrosting is safest.

It is important that no expired meats are freezed.

Should you wash meat before marinating?

It is not a good idea to wash meats before marinating them for the same reasons as above, as this will increase the risk of cross-contamination and will not help to kill all the bacteria.

Alternatively, a person should put the meat directly into a marinade, ensuring it is fully covered by the marinade. Creating tiny holes with a fork allows the meat to reach the marinade.

Before cooking, meats may be safely marinated in the refrigerator for a few days. A person may use plastic bags to marinate the meat and throw it away after use, to avoid cross-contamination.

As with other methods, everything that comes into contact with the meat should be thoroughly cleaned. Thereafter, it is also best to avoid using the excess marinade as a sauce unless a person first boils it.


The principal risk of washing meat and poultry is cross-contamination. The bacteria found in meat and poultry, as they enter the body, may cause illness.

Campylobacter bacteria can grow on many meat types. Campylobacter infection is the world’s leading bacterial cause of gastroenteritis-an infectious type of diarrhea.

Diarrhea is the most common symptom of this infection, and it often involves blood. Specific signs include:

  • stomach pain
  • fever
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Generally people effects last for 3–6 days.

Salmonella is another bacterium which is commonly found in meats. Effects of infections with Salmonella are similar to those of infections with Campylobacter.

In some cases, infections with Salmonella can be severe, and even hospital treatment may be needed for patients. Such events are more common in those with a weakened immune system, older adults and children under the age of 5.


Washing the meats and the poultry is never a good idea. Whether it is done prior to frying, freezing, or marinating, washing can lead to cross-contamination. Once bacteria migrate from the meat to other locations, such as the hands and kitchen surfaces, cross-contamination occurs.

Frying the meats and poultry should destroy all the bacteria properly. Washing them in advance actually increases the risk of infection.

Cross-contamination can lead to infections of the bacteria with a range of symptoms.

The consequences, in some cases, are more severe. For instance, children under the age of 5 can need hospital treatment for infections with Salmonella.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.

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