Do You Wash Ground Beef? (& Why People Do It!)

It’s not uncommon to wash foods before consuming them. Fruits, to rid of potential pesticides, vegetables to remove any leftover dirt, and even grains like rice to remove the starch.

But, is it really necessary to wash raw ground beef?

Maybe you’ve seen your parents do it, or maybe you’ve been doing it as a habit but have finally decided to find out why it’s done in the first place!

Here we go through if you really need to wash ground beef before you cook it, the many reasons why you shouldn’t, and why so many people still do it to this day!

I’m not into conspiracy theories or fake news. But when I heard that people still wash ground beef before they cook it, I was flabbergasted. 

The very idea that washing ground beef is suppose to be safer and cleaner is simply a widespread misconception.

You see, the idea of washing meat before cooking it was only a common practice decades ago. This is because people often slaughtered, butchered, and prepared meat in their homes. So washing it was a way to remove dirt and debris.

In this day and age, meat and poultry and cleaned to exceedingly high levels when they’re being processed. So, washing ground beef at home is simply unnecessary, and in fact, is not recommended – even by the U.S Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Because the fact of the matter is, whether you rinse it in the kitchen sink or soak it in salt water, vinegar, or lemon juice, this olden day practice will do more harm than good.

Why You Shouldn’t Wash Ground Beef Before Cooking

So, not only is it not required to wash your ground beef before cooking it, it’s actually riskier to do so.

This is because when washing raw ground beef you risk the chance of cross contamination. It’s also completely unnecessary as cooking the ground beef already kills any microbes and the meat is already clean in the first place.

Lastly, washing the raw ground beef can ruin the texture and flavor, especially if it comes into contact with any washing chemicals like dish soap

Cross-Contamination

The reason washing ground beef for cleanliness is counter intuitive is because you’re more likely to cause cross-contamination while cleaning it. The same can be said for any ground meat, including ground turkey meat!

This is when any harmful bacteria that was present in raw meat (if there were any), spread to other surfaces or tools in your kitchen.

This can simply be within the sink itself, but can also be on tiny water droplets that bounce of the raw meat.

If you don’t adequately clean your kitchen after washing your meat then microbes such as E. coli and salmonella will possibly grow around these contaminated areas – which you can get sick from if you touch the surface or utensil later!

Cooking Already Kills Microbes

Aside from the risks of cross-contamination, there is virtually no point in cleaning your ground beef to “wash-away” the microbes.

This is because when you cook the ground beef to safe to consume temperatures of 160°F or higher, it will already kill all the present microbes.

The high heat is sufficient to rid of all nasty things that by chance remain in the meat.

The Meat Is Already Clean

It’s true that if you’ve butchered the meat and ground it yourself then it’s more likely unwanted debris, dirt, etc. would remain on the mean.

In this circumstance then it’s worthwhile properly washing the whole meat before you grind it up.

However, if you’ve bought meat from a butcher, anything from Costco like a brisket or beef ribs, or from the local grocer, the meat will already be clean.

The health standards in the food industry are paramount these days, and all the processing factories are now equipped with machines that are 100% hygienic and sanitary to reduce the risk of contamination. 

Ruins The Texture Of The Meat

Lastly, by washing ground beef, you are adding a lot more moisture into the cracks and crevices of the meat.

Inevitably, you won’t be able to dry ALL of this off. So, when you go to cook the ground beef, it’s much more likely to steam the meat, rather than get an incredible sear and nice color of the beef.

Trust me, it makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture of the ground beef. This is one of the many reasons why can lead to tough ground beef! On the topic, there’s also no need to drain your ground beef after cooking it either! 

Not to mention, while washing your ground beef you run the risk of cleaning products like soap coming into contact with the meat. These chemicals can also ruin the texture of the meat, and is also unsafe.

Why Do People Wash Ground Beef?

So, why would people ever wash ground beef then?

There’s got to be some legitimate reason, right?

Well, some people wash their ground beef because they’ve seen their parents or older relatives do it. So it’s a learned habit they’ve picked up.

As mentioned, this habit was probably justified in the olden days. But, food processing technology and research have come a long way. Thus, it’s become a redundant practice.

There are those individuals which are paranoid about food safety, and who will do it time and time again without debate.

We ain’t judging, but it’s simply not required or recommended to do so from a food safety perspective, as confirmed by the U.S Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Conclusion

So, do you wash ground beef? The short answer is a clear, undebatable, and definite NO.

Washing raw meat is no longer recommended, as it actually increases the risk of sickness by cross-contamination. It’s much easier to simply cook the meat to a food-safe temperature to rid of any potential microbes.

Plus, by washing ground beef you’re sacrificing the taste and texture of your meat, as inevitably you are adding more moisture to the meat!

Instead, simply allow your ground beef to come up to room temperature, take it out of its packaging, and lay it straight into the pan or grill. Viola!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.