Dos and don'ts of handling raw meat

It is better to have separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked food.
It is better to have separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked food.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
It is better to have separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked food.
It is better to have separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked food.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Reader Woo Ming See wrote in to ask if it is necessary to wash raw meat before cooking. She says that the practice in her household is to rinse raw meat with salt under running water before cooking.

Food reporter Kenneth Goh finds out.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) says it is not necessary to wash raw meat unless there is foreign matter on it.

It is also not necessary to rinse raw meat with salt under running water, or soak it in salt water.

Raw meat and seafood may contain bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause food-borne illnesses such as food poisoning if the food is not handled or cooked properly.

These illnesses can also spread through cross-contamination.

For example, washing raw chicken can spread bacteria onto one's hands, work surfaces, clothing and kitchen equipment, and may contaminate other food.

To kill any bacterial contamination, cook the food thoroughly.

However, AVA adds that if consumers prefer to wash raw meat, they should take care not to contaminate other foods (for example, ready-to-eat foods) and work surfaces.

Some tips to prevent the cross-contamination of food:

  • Do not mix raw food with cooked food.
  • Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in lightly wrapped plastic and place them on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent the meat juices from dripping onto other food.
  • Have separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked food. If you only have one cutting board, always wash it thoroughly with soap and hot water in between using it for raw and cooked food.
  • After cutting raw meat, seafood and poultry, wash the knives thoroughly before cutting other food.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'Dos and don'ts of handling raw meat'. Print Edition | Subscribe