It’s a customary practice for Jamaicans and other Caribbean
people to rinse their meats in a mild acidic solution prior to cooking. This cultural
technique has been practiced for many years, and is now causing a great
controversy in the food safety community. Many Jamaicans normally practice this
technique especially when they are preparing chicken, fish or other meats that
have a high raw or animal odour. Additionally, it is believed that rinsing meat
in lime, lemon or vinegar water will also reduce the bacteria that maybe present.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service, washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended.
This is so, because bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to
other foods, utensils, and surfaces. Rinsing or soaking chicken does not
destroy bacteria., only cooking does.
Few skeptics are totally against this statement, as
they argue that the studies done on these products, did not include the use of
lime, vinegar or lemon water, but merely pure water. Having make such an
absolute statement they believe the statement is very misleading and may cause
more harm than good. Others have even put forth the question that wasn’t the
germs on the meat harmful before it contaminates other surfaces? Cooking meat
with that strong animal smell and bloody water at 350 degrees is basically
cooking and eating 350 degrees of filth.
One reason, this statement is backed by most food
safety regulatory body is that, during the washing of meats, spillage from the
meat could contaminate kitchen utensils, counter tops and other areas we may be
unaware of. Therefore, simply wiping down your kitchen counter will not clean
your kitchen to a safe enough level. As a result, while performing other task
the possibility of spreading germ to other areas is high.
The on-going debate in the food safety community is
one that has caught the attention of many. Some strongly opposing the
statement, while the anti-rinsing camp is growing by the minute. In spite of
the number of studies done, culturally most persons may find it difficult to do
away with this practice. This is because it is arguable that the washing of meat
in mild acidic solution does not only reduce germs and rawness on the meat but
also adds flavour.
Do you rinse your meat before cooking?