To Wash Or Not To Wash (Food), That Is The Question.

I never know whether to wash or not to wash food before cooking, and based upon the advice of WebMD, I have been getting it all wrong.  

Why is food washing essential to get correct?  If you don’t want to ingest bacteria that make you sick, it is vital to get food washing right.  

So, here goes, below is a summary of the guidance from WebMD. 

Poultry – DON’T WASH.  According to the USDA, bacteria on poultry should be killed during cooking and not by washing.  Worse, according to a recent study, 60% of the people who washed raw poultry transferred the bacteria to their sink, and 26% transferred the bacteria to their salad lettuce. 

Prewashed Salads – DON’T WASH.  Not much more to say other than prewashed means precisely what it says – it’s already washed. 

Eggs – DON’T WASH.  It never occurred to me to wash an egg, and in the almost 61 years I have been alive, I have never once washed an egg.  Other than eating, this could be the only thing I have consistently done correctly in the kitchen.  It turns out that washing an egg has the opposite effect – it lets bacteria into the egg.  You should always store your eggs in the refrigerator, and cook them thoroughly. 

Red Meat – DON’T WASH.  Like with poultry, if you wash meat before cooking you will contaminate your sink.  Cook the meat to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees and the bacteria will be killed. 

Mushrooms – DON’T WASH BUT USE A DAMP CLOTH TO CLEAN THEM.  Mushrooms soak up water, and the water may contain bacteria.  Mushrooms that have not been prewashed need to be cleaned, but the cleaning should be more of a wiping down with a cloth, rather than washing. 

Fish – DON’T WASH.  Fish is in the same category as poultry and red meat — cook-off the bacteria. 

Shell Fish – WASH.  Finally, we have a food that should be washed.  Wash raw clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops to get rid of sand and dirt.

Pasta – NO REASON TO WASH.  I didn’t know washing pasta was a thing.  It never occurred to me to prewash pasta before putting it into boiling water.  Anyway, there is no reason to wash pasta. 

Avocado – WASH.  Why wash avocado when you don’t eat the skin?  Well…when you cut into the avocado, if there are bacteria on the skin you will transfer that bacteria into the part of the avocado you are going to eat.  So, WebMD says wash away!!!

Cantaloupe and Other Mellons – WASH.  Just like with the avocado, when you cut into a melon you transfer the bacteria to the good part that we want to eat.  So, wash melons.

Grains – DON’T WASH.  If they are dusty, feel free to rinse grains, but there is no reason to wash. 

Canned Drinks – WASH.  I feel good about myself because I got this one right and have always washed the tops of soda cans before drinking (or pouring). 

Canned Beans – DON’T WASH.  There is no need to wash canned beans.  But, if you do decide to rinse them off, you will cut the sodium the amount of sodium you ingest by almost half.

Fruits and Vegetables – WASH.  Perhaps you didn’t need this advice, but I thought I thought I would give it to you anyway.  That is, wash unless they are prewashed and then don’t wash.  

I hope that this information is helpful and keeps you safe.
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Mark Sunshine

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