Myth: Washing Meat Before You Cook It Is a Helpful Food Safety Step


Washing meat will not make a product safer. In fact, it may even increase your risk of foodborne illness due to cross contamination. When you wash meat, any bacteria that might be on the meat surface can be splashed into or around the sink creating an environment conducive to the cross-contamination of utensils or other foods.

USDA says even careful washing is not a good practice as some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that even numerous washings will not remove them.1

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A critical safety step is cooking meat to the appropriate internal temperature. The temperature varies by type of meat. A hamburger needs to be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken or turkey must be cooked 165 degrees Fahrenheit while for any whole muscle cut like a steak or chop it is 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a three minute rest period. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the proper temperature has been reached.

There are several other important food safety steps people can take from the moment they select their meat in the store until they serve it.

In the store:

At home:

  1. Washing Food: Does it Promote Food Safety? |