It's not a bad practice to wash your food before you eat it. We've heard a slew of reasons for why you should be doing this, and over the years we've just stopped questioning whether it's true. Why not just wash all food before consumption? Better to be safe than sorry. Well, you might actually be doing yourself more harm than good by scrubbing these foods down before eating. This comprehensive list lets you know which ones are best left out of the sink.
When you're taking handfuls of pasta from the box it might seem like a good idea to give it a good rinse first, but you really don't need to do this. When you rinse the noodles, you're getting rid of the starch and that's what helps you sauce stick to everything. In fact, the only time you need to do this is if you're preparing something like pasta salad. Otherwise, leave that starch where it is.
The USDA recommends not washing your turkey before consumption. The big reason is that doing this actually opens the door to spreading germs around the kitchen. They recommend that you should only wash your turkey if it was brined. Regardless of whether you bought one or brined it yourself, you need to wash it off before it goes into the oven.
To safely rinse off anything, they suggest that you fully clean out the sink and line it with paper towels. From there, place the turkey in the roasting pan to catch any water. Gently run cold water over everything and that's it. They also recommend holding the turkey up over the pan to let it drain any water into the sink.
Studies have shown that you shouldn't be washing your pre-washed greens after purchase. The reason why is that you're actually more likely to spread germs this way and get yourself sick. The study suggested looking at the label to see whether your greens have been washed or triple-washed. If they have been, they don't need to be washed again and should be eaten before they expire. They also explained that washing a pre-washed salad doesn't necessarily decrease bacteria that may be floating around and pre-washed salads rarely have anything harmful on them to begin with. However, if you plan on washing your greens once more, they give you proper instructions on how to handle your food.
Rinsing off mushrooms is a bad time for everyone. I know that cleaning these guys has probably been a staple in the cooking process for years, but wet mushrooms never really become dry again. All you're doing when you wash mushrooms is welcoming a potential sliminess to them. It's particularly bad news to wash them when they're cut. Washing at this point should be avoided altogether.
However, it's a bad idea to give your whole mushrooms a once-over before using them. That doesn't mean you need water, though. Just brush them off with a clean cloth.
The FDA revealed that a whopping 67% of people in 2016 said they washed their chicken before cooking it. It obviously seemed like common knowledge to a lot of people, but they revealed that washing chicken spreads germs around. What happens here is that washing rids of any pathogens and increases the risk of cross-contamination with other foods and surfaces in the kitchen. Not even just the kitchen, even. The report also stated that 48% of people at the time were using their phone when cooking with raw food. It's better to wash your own hands than the chicken.
Just like with poultry and turkey, washing your pork before cooking it only welcomes more cross-contamination in the kitchen. The juices from meat have the ability to spread to other areas in the room and can cause problems down the road. The USDA recommends using a food thermometer to really know if your meat no longer has any bacteria lingering around. Once it's reached the proper temperature, you know you're good to go.
Washing your eggs might seem like a weird one on the surface, but it's more about retailers than anything else. In fact, American eggs are actually illegal in some countries due to the difference in cleansing processes around the world. Eggs in America are cleaned after they're hatched, but in places like Europe selling those eggs would be illegal because their marketing laws state eggs need to be placed on shelves without being washed first.
The USDA also states that you don't need to wash eggs again after you buy them because you'll be removing a protective coating that seals out any bacteria. They also warn that you open the door to cross-contamination by washing them again, particularly is the shell cracks.
Lastly, we have red meat. Beef has the same health regulations as the other types of meat on this list and washing it only increases the same risks. Rinsing off red meat can easily spread germs around the kitchen and make cross-contamination more likely. Something else to worry about is that washing your beef will only add moisture to the meat and could ruin the taste of your dinner.
In the past, it no doubt seemed like a good idea to wash these items before cooking them. It was only two years ago that over 60% of consumers thought washing their poultry was a good idea. But learning about the pros and cons of washing food is the best way to keep yourself educated and prevent any germs and bacteria from spreading around the house.