Should We Wash Chicken in Singapore?
In one of our events recently, a question was asked to me: Should we wash chicken, especially in Singapore? Here’s our insight at D’Open Kitchen.
Where do our chickens come from?
Most chicken in Singapore comes imported from Brazil (mostly), Malaysia and the United States either live or frozen as according AVA Singapore as of 2017.(1) It’s pretty safe to say the chickens that are brought it are pretty safe from most harmful bacteria and were slaughtered, packed and stored under sanitary conditions before export.
Where do they go?
As soon as they gain entry in Singapore, most are stored in chilled warehouses waiting distribution. They end up in eventually in smaller chillers in the butchery section of your supermarkets ready to either repackaged, sold or butchered. Others go to direct to food vendors (like restaurants) and lastly, some will eventually end up in our wet markets.
The last mile delivery process is very important. Whilst supermarkets and food vendors are legally accountable for their food hygiene practices, some retailers (like wet markets) have a little wiggle way in this regard. A skirt by the law retailer, could have stored or handled the chicken improperly before selling it to you!
What are the dangers & how do we make it safe?
Pathogens that are normally found in raw chicken (be in on the skin or in the flesh) are salmonella and campylobacter (2). Both pathogens are infectious and can cause a bevvy array of symptoms, ranging from diarrhoea, vomiting, intestinal pain, fever to everything in between.
Both of the pathogens succumb to heat! Which is a great thing because we’re accustomed to eating cooked chicken anyhow. So make sure you cook your chicken to 75 degrees Celsius for about 2 minutes and most (if not all) of the pathogens will be destroyed by the process of cooking.
Conclusion – So do we wash or not? (Singlish intended)
Our take is, you don’t need to wash the chicken if it has already been process cleanly (or it comes direct from the manufacturer’s packaging) – just straight cook it. However, it all depends on the last mile delivery. For example, the chicken could be exposed to dirt and foreign matter before placing it in the chiller, then perhaps a quick wash is required. Ergo, if you see something yucky (like dirt, foreign matter) wash it, if it looks alright, don’t.
Remember: Washing Chicken doesn’t remove pathogens in its entirety!
If you’re washing your chicken, please take note of this: You may spread the pathogens when washing! If you have vegetables next to your washing station (sink), more than likely cross contamination will occur as the water will carry (and possible splash) the pathogen around. The surrounds of the sink will also then be contaminated and will require to be sanitised before any other foods are placed nearby. See this video: https://youtu.be/JZXDotD4p9c for a visual view.
Bottomline: Wash or not??
Wash it only when completely necessary, and if you do, be careful of cross contamination! – Chef Gary