Do you wash meats before cooking? Here’s what you need to know

In many countries, including the Dominican Republic, there is a culture of washing meats before cooking. Some people use homemade ingredients such as orange or vinegar, while others simply place them under running tap water, with the intention of eliminating possible bacteria. However, this is an action that, instead of being beneficial, can be detrimental to your health.

National and international disease prevention and nutrition organizations have warned on several occasions about the risks of washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb and chicken before cooking. The reason is simple: the bacteria that proliferate in the raw juices of these products could spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces; this is known as cross-contamination.

According to the president of the Dominican School of Food and Beverage A&B Masters, Juan Febles, this practice when cooking does not provide safety, because washing only eliminates bacteria superficially. “A chicken meat that is sticky or slimy, for example, many could say ‘I wash it with orange and that is removed’, but that is not safe, because the bacteria remain intact in the center of the meat,” he explains.

The expert indicates that, in the case of fish, many people consider that by sanitizing them they are taking care of ciguatera, a type of food poisoning that occurs when a human being consumes fish that have in their tissues toxins acquired from eating microscopic algae, or from other toxins that sometimes generate food products when they are badly stored. “When a fish is damaged, it is no good if you boil it, wash it, chlorinate it. That is not going to prevent a person from getting intoxicated when consuming it,” says Febles.

In addition to the fact that sanitizing meats with citrus or detergents, as some people do, gives a feeling of safety that is not real, the commercial coordinator of the Sabores Dominicanos Foundation explains that this action has made many typical dishes of the country taste different. “For example, goat meat, to kill the smell, many people add some products that add flavor to it,” he says.

So what can be done to avoid cross-contamination? Febles suggests hygienic handling of food, which is to prevent contamination to avoid diseases, in addition to cooking meats well to eliminate germs and bacteria.

Translated with (free version)

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