Why do folks wash their meats?

The discussion of washing meats versus not washing meats has been a hot topic before, especially in our Facebook group. Although, it seems the popular consensus is that washing meats is an unpopular thing to do.

I want to follow up with a different question. Why do perople wash their meats? Personally, this is something that I watched my family doing and it become a habit - but I didn’t question it until a bit recently. I couldn’t tell you why my family did/still does.

I was also wondering if perhaps during the process of hunting and butchering your own animal, there was a wash/clean process that maybe carried over as a cooking habit, even when buying cuts straight from a butcher. If anyone hunts, kills, and butchers their own meat - how does that process look like in terms of washing, if there is one?

No idea. I don’t.

Alyssa, do you think there could be an ancestral genetic connection to raccoons that explains the behaviour?

Serious question, actually.

Probably something along the lines of this: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

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Thank you for sharing this.

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I hunt and the only time I have done anything close to washing is if the intestines or other parts of the digestive track are damaged and it leaks into the body cavity. I can only remember doing this once when a young person was being taught how to dress a deer and he cut the intestine. We rinsed the cavity in the river. I have never rinsed anything that is being butchered.


Thanks John this was insightful. Interesting to know that washing is not a familiar action when hunting and butchering your own meats - at least not in your case. How would you handle blood? Just simply drain as much as you can without rinsing?

Like John, I deal with a bit of wild meat. Goat hair can be a problem, even if the animal has been carefully and expertly skinned. But, when needed I’ll wipe the meat with a damp cloth in an attempt to remove lose hair rather than washing in water.

Blood similarly is not a problem if the animal is bled and hung. Any remnant blood in the system can be massaged out. So, once again, no need to wash it.

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The only times that I have “washed” a piece of meat, (not chicken), is when you occasionally get a packet, pull out the steak or whatever, and there is a thin slime on the bottom that is in contact with those absorbent inserts.

Normally, I just scrape the cut surfaces of the meat with a knife edge to remove cutting debris, and proceed from there.


When I buy pork chops with the bone, I feel the bone area and almost always will feel little bone chips where the band saw cut the chops apart. I always rinse off the chops to get rid of the bone fragments.

I do the same for beef with bones in (like porterhouse steaks). If there are any chips, I rinse them off. Generally speaking though, steaks don’t SEEM to have nearly as much problem as pork chops. Don’t know why – maybe it’s because of the different species…who knows? Just something I’ve noticed.

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My aunt always said don’t wash your meat until you’re ready to cook it. Then wash it just before you cook it. I’ve always followed that advice until recently.
Then , just before I cooked my meats, I started NOT to wash it. I’ve read many new articles on instructions not to wash ones meats so I tried it. Sadly, the taste seems altered and not what my family is used to. So I started , and will continue, to wash my meats before cooking it.
I remember the old adage, …" what was once new, becomes old, become new again…"


Yeah. Unfortunately that’s a sign of the way they do things these days. Butchers no longer work ‘with’ the carcass to produce the cuts, but smash straight through with a band saw. Chops are supposed to be separated between the ribs.

That’s one of my big beefs (pun intended) with modern butchery over the traditional kind. Traditional butchery works with the anatomy of the animal, using joints as the separation point and only cutting bone where necessary as a last resort or on request. That’s how roasting cuts get to be called ‘joints.’

The reason why you notice smashed bone in Pork more than you do with Beef is due to animal size and bone density.

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The only reason I wash a meat is if it has been frozen. A few times the meat has a slightly freezer burnt taste. I’ve found that washing the exterior helps to lessen that taste.


I usually only rinse my meat after it’s been in the freezer and then thawed just to get it fresh I guess


Wash veggies to get dirt off. Not meat. Leave that to the processor unless I kill it myself then its to get the hair off😁

Can’t comment on wild kill or home butchery but meat is as ‘clean’ as it will be direct from a good quality butcher the less it is handled for storage the better. If one must wash or rinse meat always use your filtered water tap.

Wear disposable food safe gloves when handling meat.

Here we generally take it out of any plastic wrappers/bags as soon as possible. Transfer it to individual storage dishes - we use stainless GN pans. Depending on the meat it is put on a butcher’s absorbent pad or not (an absorbent kitchen paper towel is a short term alternative but needs replacing after a couple of days). The meat it is covered or left exposed to the air flow. . Put it into the back of the coldest part of the refrigerator where it will not be subject to too much temperature fluctuation.

If it is to be kept for more than a few days - vac pack it - do that yourself or have your butcher do it for you.

If your butcher does not have vac pack facilitates - change butchers.

Interesting. I never actually thought about it. I never have washed my meats except for packaged chicken which many times has a “slimy” sort of liquid in the container.

As Jacques pepin says any bacteria left over after cooking deserves to be there.

As long as you cook your meat well it’s fine.

In order to clean the blood and make the meat fresh. :slight_smile: