Should You Wash Your Meat?

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There are so many different meat combinations and flavors to be experienced in the world of food and it’s our job as meat-lovers to try as many of these as physically possible. There’s no downside! 

However, there are little things that we can do to try and stay safe whilst traversing our way through the meat world and all of the food it has to offer.

Because meats can often cause illnesses and diseases if they’re not cooked and prepared properly, there are precautions that we can take as food lovers, to minimize the risks of eating meat. 

But should you wash your meat before eating? Does it affect the flavor or the texture? Follow our guide to find out whether washing your meat makes any difference and whether it keeps you safe.

How Can Meats Make You Sick?

There are a few types of meats that may make you sick when eaten raw and uncooked. There are a few different ways that these meats can leave you feeling ill. These include:


This is an intestinal bacteria that can be found in contaminated water and soil. It is one of the leading causes of diarrhea and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

E. coli O157:H7 is a particularly dangerous strain of this bacterium and it tends to grow well at higher temperatures than other strains of E. coli. 

If you’ve been exposed to this bacterium then it’s important to cleanse your body with lots of fluids for 2 days after exposure. This will help flush out the toxins left behind by the bacteria and reduce the risk of developing a more serious infection. 


Salmonellosis is caused by salmonella bacteria and it’s responsible for millions of cases of illness every year. The most common symptoms associated with salmonellosis include fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. In some cases, people suffer from headaches, stiff neck, joint pain, muscle and bone aches, and fatigue. 

To prevent getting salmonella, always cook chicken thoroughly and use separate cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods like vegetables.

Food Poisoning

Another type of bacteria that can lead to food poisoning is Clostridium perfringens. These bacteria grow best at room temperature and it is present on raw poultry. When people eat undercooked poultry or pork, they can develop symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, headache, and dizziness. 

To avoid getting food poisoning, it’s recommended to always cook meats until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Staphylococcus Aureus

This bacteria lives naturally on the skin and mucous membranes but it can also be found on raw beef and dairy products. Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome is a rare condition that occurs when people come into contact with staphylococci bacteria.

What Common Meats Can Cause These Illnesses?

Raw chicken breast meat is known to contain high levels of bacteria including salmonella, listeria, and campylobacter. Salmonella is very contagious because it can survive in extreme heat, cold, and humidity. 

Therefore, it’s important to keep your hands clean before handling raw chicken and wash them thoroughly afterward. Listeria monocytogenes can contaminate raw milk and unpasteurized cheeses and it’s commonly found in deli meats.

Pork can often cause different illnesses that people have gotten sick from. Campylobacter jejuni is a common source of food poisoning and it can be found in raw chicken and seafood.

Shigella dysenteriae and Escherichia coli 0157:H7 are both sources of diarrheal disease and they can be found in raw beef and ground turkey.

Raw eggs can carry salmonella and it’s important to keep raw egg dishes away from children who aren’t old enough to handle them safely. The raw beef liver can be dangerous because it can contain potentially harmful viruses like hepatitis A and B.

What Is Cross-Contamination?

Cross-contamination happens when pathogens are passed between raw meat and cooked meat. This means that if you prepare raw beef using kitchen equipment that was used to prepare raw chicken, then you could end up spreading these germs to other foods. 

For example, if you wash your hands with soap and warm water but don’t dry them properly, then you may transfer those germs onto your food when preparing.

After preparing raw chicken, or other raw meats, you might touch more than one surface and accidentally spread the pathogen to another item. This is why it’s so important to practice safe hygiene habits.

Should I Wash My Meat?

There isn’t always a need to wash your meat before eating because it’s usually prepared by professional food handlers. However, washing your hands after touching raw meat will help you protect yourself from food poisoning. 

It’s recommended to rinse your hands with hot water and soap right after handling raw meat. If you’re worried about cross-contamination, then you should wear gloves while cooking and handling raw meat.

You can also put your raw meat in a container lined with paper towels and place it in the refrigerator immediately after preparation. This will keep it cold and fresh, but you need to keep it separate from other food items to avoid cross-contamination and the spreading of germs from raw meat. 

Food safety experts have stated frequently that keeping raw and cooked meat separate is integral to keeping yourself safe.

Does Washing Meat Affect The Food?

Washing meat doesn’t change its taste or texture. Some say that washing your meat makes it look cleaner and fresher. When preparing raw meats at home, make sure to only use tools that have been cleaned well.

Avoid using dirty knives for cutting raw meats as this can lead to bacterial growth on the blade. This is arguably as important as having clean meat.

Making Sure Meat Is Cooked Thoroughly

Another way to prevent the spreading and growth of bacteria is to ensure that the meat in question has been cooked and prepared appropriately.

While cooking meat thoroughly is an essential part of preventing foodborne illness, it’s important to remember that not all cuts of meat must be cooked to a certain temperature. Beef steaks can be considered medium rare and are safe to eat without being fully cooked.

Chicken breast needs to be cooked thoroughly to avoid illnesses like salmonella and needs to be fully checked before consumption. Pork loin and pork ham are considered harmful when undercooked and they require proper cooking methods to kill any harmful microbes. Both of these need to be free of any red features to know that the meat is cooked properly.

How Can I Make Sure My Meats Are Safe To Eat?

It’s important to know what temperatures are required to cook specific types of meats. Be careful when purchasing large amounts of meat because you might want to freeze some of it and thaw it later for later use. 

Making sure that you know the times involved with cooking meat thoroughly is important. Beef is less alarming because people can eat the meat at a fairly raw level and still enjoy their meals. Other meats like pork and chicken are harder to cook properly.

If you don’t know what type of meat you’re buying, ask your butcher or check the label or do it yourself when purchasing the food.

If you’re unsure whether or not the meat was prepared correctly, you can buy the same cut of meat twice and compare the color and smell. If you notice differences, you might want to re-evaluate your purchase.

What Does Bad Meat Smell Like?

The scent of food depends upon many factors, including the ingredients used, the method of preparation, and the time the food has spent in storage. Spoiled meat smells like ammonia and/or rotten eggs.

It may also have a strong odor of blood or vomit depending on the type of meat you’re examining. Any meat that smells bad should never be consumed because of the consequences that can follow.

When Should You Refrigerate Raw Meat?

Meat should always be refrigerated if left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Refrigeration helps to slow down the growth of microorganisms, which is why we recommend storing your uncooked meats in the fridge. Some people prefer to store them in the freezer, but frozen meat tends to lose flavor over time.

What Happens If Meat Isn’t Kept Cold?

Some types of meat aren’t necessarily dangerous to consume. However, if the meat stays outside of the refrigerator for too long, it will begin to spoil.

The best way to keep meat fresh is by keeping it cold. If you’re going to leave your meat at room temperature, wrap it tightly in plastic or place it inside a sealed container for a short amount of time.

To prevent foodborne illness, you’ll want to wash your hands often and maintain a sanitary environment around where you prepare meals. By following these tips, you’ll reduce the risk of getting sick from eating contaminated food.


To conclude, it isn’t always necessary to wash your meat, however, it’s vital that you wash your hands and always keep your tools and utensils clean. When preparing food, you must be cautious about how you handle the items so that you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Remember to take note of all the safety measures that go into making your food while cooking and make sure to read labels carefully.

Making sure you stay safe and away from bacteria and the illnesses they cause is essential to enjoying your food. We hope that our guide has ensured that you can eat your meals and enjoy your meat without too many complications.

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