Nightly News   |  September 04, 2013

You may not have to wash that chicken after all

Do you wash your chicken before you prepare it? A new study says rinsing it off actually may do more harm than good. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> we are back with our health news store i tonight, and as we mentioned, let's be honest here, it's very likely that a whole lot of people just aren't going to believe it when they hear that this new research says washing a chicken, just rinsing it off before you prepare it and cook it, may actually do more harm than good. we get the story tonight from nbc's kerry sanders .

>> reporter: the average american eats 81 pounds of chicken a year, and as mom always told you before cooking wash the chicken. even julia child said it was a must.

>> run the water right through it inside and out.

>> reporter: but now a study by drexel university says that's a huge mistake.

>> i mean, i've done this for 13 years.

>> reporter: as an animation created by drexel shows, water splatters up to 2.3 feet from the spigot, and those droplets carry with them bacteria like salmonella.

>> there are about a million salmonella illnesses and about 378 deaths from salmonella per year.

>> reporter: the number one protection, say experts, make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked, and tonight a warning from the government that changes to the poultry inspection process to put food safety in jeopardy. currently up to four usda inspectors monitor 140 chickens a minute, but under an industry-supported proposal there would be only one government inspector , and the line speed could increase up to 175 birds a minute. already the usda has been testing these changes, but in a report released today the gao writes faster line speeds raise concerns about food safety .

>> i think that they are putting speed over safety.

>> reporter: usda says the new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness . no washing, new advice that may be hard to swallow in countless american kitchens. kerry sanders , nbc news, ft. lauderdale.