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Wait! Don't Wash Your Chicken!

Research has always been a strong point of a Drexel education, and the projects Drexel students and faculty work on range from life-saving robots to washing your chicken.

Yes, you read that right. Chicken.

Drexel researcher Jennifer Quinlan conducted the study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to find out whether it's wise to wash raw chicken before cooking it for dinner.

The results were surprising.

Quinlan found that it's actually a bad idea to wash chicken before cooking it. The reason? Washing the poultry in water spreads germs throughout the kitchen, onto countertops, other food, towels, and you. The water splashes the chicken germs everywhere, which can lead to illnesses.

Drexel researchers found it's best to take the chicken straight from package to pan, since the heat required for cooking will kill all present bacteria.

This research changed the way a lot of people have undertaken an everyday task for years. Roughly 90 percent of people say they wash their chicken before cooking it, as recipes have historically called for chicken washing. In addition, it's thought the practice started because people wanted to rinse the slime off of just-opened chicken pieces.

In a public service campaign to end chicken washing for good, Quinlan explains why it doesn't pay. "It does not get rid of the bacteria, it doesn't kill the bacteria," Quinlan says. "However, there is a chance that it will spray that bacteria."

Hopefully with this information made public, more people will stop washing their chicken before cooking it, reducing the instances of food-related sickness.

Quinlan's research underscores a point of pride at Drexel University: We're always researching, and we're always discovering something new to improve the world around us.