SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Consumers are being warned against a popular practice used by most home cooks with regard to uncooked chicken.

The message: don’t rinse it before cooking or you could be spraying your kitchen counters with bacteria.

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That’s the message behind a new campaign developed by Drexel University with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s estimated 90% of home cooks in the U.S. give their chicken a rinse or wash as part of their preparations for cooking.

San Francisco-based chef and cooking teacher Frances Wilson has been of the ‘no-rinse’ school for years since reading an article in the New York Times advising against the practice. “Once you take the chicken to the sink and start washing it, whatever germs that are on the chicken have now gone on the faucet handle, on the sink, on the counter beside it,” Wilson told ConsumerWatch.

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Registered dietician Jo Ann Hattner agreed. She said the safest and surest way to get rid of the bacteria in raw chicken is by cooking your bird so the meat inside reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. “We kill the bacteria by cooking the chicken,” Hattner said.

But – what about the liquid that accumulates on plastic-wrapped chicken? Dr. Jennifer Quinlan of Drexel University said it doesn’t have to be rinsed off, and that doing so risks spreading bacteria. Quinlan also says there’s no guarantee even careful rinsing won’t spread bacteria.

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