Ought to You Clean Meat Ahead of Cooking or Freezing?

Merna Delaurentis

Meat is a staple food stuff in several diet programs and an exceptional source of protein, iron, vitamin B12, and other vital nutrition. Having said that, meat, including poultry and fish, typically carries dangerous pathogens — both germs and viruses — that may induce food items poisoning. Hence, it is […]

Meat is a staple food stuff in several diet programs and an exceptional source of protein, iron, vitamin B12, and other vital nutrition.

Having said that, meat, including poultry and fish, typically carries dangerous pathogens — both germs and viruses — that may induce food items poisoning. Hence, it is regarded a significant-danger food stuff (1).

In some cultures close to the planet, these as all those in the Caribbean — where by I stay — washing meat is a prevalent practice which is regarded an indicator of cleanliness in the kitchen area. Acidic agents like lemon juice or white vinegar are ordinarily bundled in the procedure.

Even now, you might want to know whether washing meat is harmless or efficient.

This post points out no matter whether there is any validity to this follow, the added benefits and pitfalls of washing meat, and proper food safety rules.

Washing meat requires rinsing chopped or entire cuts of meat less than running h2o to eliminate debris or remnants from trimming away the pores and skin and fats.

The meat may possibly be presoaked in a option of drinking water and acid — often white vinegar or lemon juice — then rinsed less than jogging water prior to being seasoned with a dry rub or marinade, right after which it is cooked or frozen.

This follow is most likely motivated by cultural tactics in some nations, as well as where by you invest in meat.

In creating nations, wet marketplaces and cottage poultry processors (also identified as poultry or meat depots) deliver vital sources of fresh new meat. These markets market just lately slaughtered meat or allow you pick out the animal for slaughter (2).

Given these situations, it is commonplace to rinse the meat to wash away blood or other physical contaminants, such as damaged bones, that could have been launched for the duration of slaughter.


Washing meat involves presoaking the meat in an acidic answer, rinsing it under running drinking water to remove blood and physical contaminants introduced for the duration of slaughter, or the two. It is widespread in locations where by contemporary meat is offered.

Raw meat, poultry, and fish may be contaminated with hazardous micro organism and viruses that guide to food poisoning (1, 3).

Prevalent foodborne pathogens contain the micro organism Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, and E. coli, moreover the viruses norovirus and hepatitis A. Jointly, these pathogens lead to all around 48 million situations of food poisoning in the United States each individual year (3, 4).

The Facilities for Sickness Manage and Prevention (CDC) warns that washing meat with plain operating water does not take away foodborne pathogens (5).

In truth, washing meat working with simple running drinking water may pose extra food items safety and health and fitness challenges by spreading micro organism to other surfaces and food items that will be eaten uncooked, this kind of as fruit or salad (5).

On the other hand, just one study located that scalding veal at 140°F (60°C) for 4 minutes, or spraying it with 180°F (82°C) drinking water followed by a lactic acid spray, decreased bacterial development on the area of the meat (6).

Added studies demonstrate that washing the surface of meat with an acidic remedy like vinegar or lemon juice cuts down the range of microbes on raw meat, when compared with washing with plain drinking water (7, 8, 9).


Acidic options decrease germs on uncooked meat, but washing meat with plain functioning h2o does not get rid of foodborne pathogens and might pose supplemental food stuff protection and wellbeing pitfalls.

If you clean uncooked meat underneath basic managing drinking water, splashing drinking water could transfer microbes and viruses from the meat’s surface area to close by foods, utensils, and cooking surfaces. This could distribute germs and maximize the likelihood of you receiving ill (5).

This video from the CDC illustrates how these pathogens may possibly distribute.

Scrubbing the cooking surface area or sink with soapy h2o doesn’t necessarily clear away these pathogens and may perhaps maximize your possibility of foodstuff poisoning or the prevalence of foodstuff spoilage (10).

As a result, it’s greatest to stay away from washing meat under jogging h2o.


Washing meat with basic managing h2o spreads foodborne pathogens to other foodstuff, utensils, and cooking surfaces and increases your risk of foods poisoning.

You can use food-grade acidic methods to clean or prepare meat, as they assist kill microorganisms, incorporate taste, and tenderize the meat (7).

Here are prevalent acidic solutions applied in meat preparation:

  • White vinegar. This frequent cooking and cleansing ingredient is also one particular of the most widespread acids for washing meat. It contains acetic acid, which has been proven to reduce bacterial volume and advancement on the floor of beef, rooster, and duck (7, 8, 9, 11).
  • Lemon or lime juice. These citrus juices are not only handy in each day cooking but have also been identified to minimize micro organism on meat and retain the flavor of cooked meat (7).
  • Food stuff-grade sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This food items additive stops mould and bacterial advancement and is utilised to remove the skins of fruits and veggies like tomatoes or potatoes. NaOH minimizes bacterial development on the surfaces of meat (6, 10, 11, 12).

Even so, it’s not nevertheless acknowledged no matter whether these acids also destroy foodborne viruses. As these kinds of, it is very best apply to completely prepare dinner all meat, which is the most effective way to destroy harmful germs, according to the CDC (5).


Food stuff-quality acidic remedies, these types of as vinegar, lemon juice, and sodium hydroxide, reduce germs on uncooked meat and are used for tenderizing and flavoring reasons.

Practicing proper food cleanliness at home is the finest way to make certain that your raw meat and cooked goods remain safe.

The CDC and U.S. Food stuff Safety and Inspection Provider (FSIS) supply easy suggestions (13):

  • Wash palms and surfaces. Wash your arms usually with heat, soapy h2o for at minimum 20 seconds. Scrub foodstuff surfaces, this sort of as cutting boards, counter tops, and sinks, just before and just after use (14).
  • Separate foodstuff. Hold uncooked and all set-to-try to eat meals separate to avoid cross contamination and the spreading of germs (15).
  • Carefully cook meals. Prepare dinner meat to the appropriate internal temperatures to kill destructive pathogens and make it secure to take in.
  • Chill. Promptly refrigerate meat and safely thaw meats in cold h2o, the fridge, or the microwave. Master far more about refrigeration storage below (16).

If you pick to clean your meat just before cooking or freezing, there are not very well-proven policies on the apply. Nonetheless, below in the Caribbean, it’s typical to blend 1 component of vinegar to 2 parts water or just put the meat in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 1–2 lemons or limes on to it.

Subsequent, trim the meat as sought after, following general foods safety suggestions.


Working towards foodstuff security processes at residence and cooking meats extensively are the very best ways to make certain that raw meats and cooked goods are risk-free to try to eat.

Washing uncooked meat with basic drinking water is ineffective at removing germs and may well trigger extra damage than great by spreading foodborne pathogens to other meals and throughout cooking surfaces.

Acidic answers like white vinegar and lemon juice may decreased the variety of microbes on raw meat, whilst this practice is influenced by cultural practices and buying behaviors.

Even so, it’s unclear irrespective of whether these acidic answers kill harmful foodborne viruses, so practicing suitable meals hygiene is the ideal way to assure that raw meats are safe to cook dinner or freeze.

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