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6.5.14

WASHING POULTRY


Dorothy was a public health nurse in Prince Rupert and she worked with Jim part time. Before Susie was born she had me over a few times; I think to introduce me to Canadian culture coming from the backwoods of Budapest. She started dinner and I watched her. She took a package from the fridge and removed the wrapping. She picked up a flank roast, bent down to open the oven door, took out a baking pan, and plunked the roast on it. Next she reached for the pepper shaker and sprinkled pepper all over the meat and that is when I interrupted. Aren't you washing that meat? - I asked. Why should I - she shrugged - It’s clean. She put the pan in the oven and turned it to 425F. Then she put the kettle on. That will be some dinner I thought, but that was my first clue into Canadian trust and unquestioning fate in things no one knows anything about. I thought how could she know that the meat was clean, the butcher touched it, she touched it and I didn't see her wash hands. Growing up in communist Hungary I learned that not everything authority tells you is true. We had to circumnavigate an intricate web of official lies and pretend in order to survive and not have the police bang on the front door at night. I learned early to look for reasons behind every rule I had to follow. I thought, that the meat Dorothy was cooking came from a place neither of us knew and it had to have gone through several pairs of hands, one of which did not wash. If I was going to eat from it I would want it to be washed. I knew even back then that there had to be germs on that meat. I went home enriched with the knowledge that Canadians follow authority and don’t think for themselves. Which brings me to a couple of authorities and boy do I have a bone to pick with them!

Health Canada [and similarly the] FDA states: 

“Never rinse poultry before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a safety hazard”

Good to know the chicken we eat is a “safety hazard”. 

There is a campaign under way not to wash meat. I know it isn't pretty how they grow animals and butcher them. But why not clean up the industry instead of imposing asinine regulations on the consumer? Why is our food a safety hazard and why should we accept it? 

Health Canada and the FDA react only to outbreaks with recalls instead of making sure our food was safe in the first place. Where do you think Salmonella, Listeria, E.coli or the Noro virus on meat come from? They come from animals living in their excrement, eating their own feces and each others’ and from filthy slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. Cleaning up the industry of course is out of the question and since the customer can’t be trusted, lest he should splash contaminants onto his salad, convince him not to wash the meat at all. It is better for him to cook the crap than wash it off.

What's wrong with this picture?
Can't you just move that cheese, paper towel and salad away from the sink?
How about wearing an apron?

Unbelievable as this “don't wash the meat” is, it is starting to resonate with the public. Savvy cooks ignore it, but most people will simply accept it without ever thinking it through and the mantra will be repeated over and over again and no thought will be given as to why they are not washing the meat anymore. Some people perhaps never bothered to wash the meat and now there is a good excuse for them not to. 

I say wash the meat and clean up. Sanitize every surface meat may have come in contact with and learn how cross contamination works. For now that is all that the consumer can do if he is unwilling to consume dead fecal matter with his meat.

Move everything out of reach from the sink and fill a bowl with cold water

Get ready to cut. 

Separate the thigh from the drumstick

Cut off skin and back pieces.

Slide up to four pieces of chicken into the cold water. 

Let the chicken parts sit in the water for a couple of minutes.
Next move a paper lined tray near the soaking chicken. 
Without dripping, transfer chicken pieces onto the tray.

Pour the used water down the drain and set up fresh water for the next batch.

With kitchen shears cut away the fatty and slimy bits and discard them.

Dab the chicken pieces with paper towel and set them to dry. 
Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.

If not needed pack chicken pieces into a freezer bag and freeze. 
Otherwise they are ready for salting or for the brine.

Last to wash are the backs that were trimmed off. 
Dry them and pack them into a freezer bag and use them for stock.

I have given up on the notion that profiteering could ever be curbed to safeguard public health. But I fail to see the wisdom of dumbing down people instead of educating them. I simply cannot believe there have been no objections or counterarguments raised against not washing meat. Why are people so willing to follow the Piped Piper I do not know. As for me I intend to ignore Health Canada and the FDA and will continue to wash the meat I prepare for my family. My only vested interest is their health.


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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. This is to my old on-line friends and visitors: policing the comment section for spam and answering questions has become a chore. Good wishes to you all, happy cooking and keep on feeding your people with good food.

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