“We wanted to know what effect an educational intervention would have on people stopping washing poultry before cooking, and the impact any behavioral change might have on reducing pollution. in the kitchenEllen Shumaker, the study’s corresponding author and an extension associate at North Carolina State University.
For the study, researchers recruited 300 home cooks who washed poultry before cooking. The researchers emailed food safety information to 142 study participants, outlining risk-reduction efforts, including a recommendation not to wash raw poultry during food processing.
The remaining 158 study participants received no educational intervention. All 300 study participants were then invited to test kitchens equipped with video cameras to film meal preparation.
Participants were asked to cook chicken thighs and prepare a salad. After preparing the chicken thighs, but before putting the chicken in the oven, the participants were called out of the kitchen for a brief interview.
The participants were then taken back to the kitchen to cook chicken thighs, prepare salads, and clean the kitchen as they would at home.
What the study participants didn’t know was that the chicken thighs had been inoculated with a harmless strain of bacteria that the researchers were able to detect.
This allowed the researchers to scan surfaces in the kitchen to see if any cross-contamination occurred during food preparation and cooking.
When the study participants left the kitchen for the interview, the researchers scanned the kitchen to identify any potential contamination. Prepared salads have also been checked for possible contamination.
Ninety-three percent of the participants who received the intervention did not wash the chickens, compared with 39% of the participants who did not receive the intervention.
However, the researchers were surprised to find that people who washed chicken and those who didn’t had similar levels of contamination from raw chicken in their prepared salads.
This is somewhat surprising as it is generally assumed that the risk associated with washing chickens is that water will splash off the chickens and contaminate surrounding surfaces. Instead, the sink itself was contaminated, even if the chicken wasn’t washed.
Washing chicken is still not a good idea, but this study shows the need to focus on preventing sink contamination and emphasizes the importance of hand washing and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. .