Should you wash ground beef? Expert weighs in on the viral cooking method

Is it possible you've been cooking your ground beef all wrong? 

A cooking trend that exists on TikTok has had social media users asking themselves just that.

It turns out some at-home chefs have taken to washing their meat before cooking it.

TikTok user @madinahskitchen is one of many who has posted a video showing beef being rinsed in a colander. The footage has been viewed more than three million times.

Some comments expressed shock as to why someone would wash ground beef. 

"You're not supposed to wash it I don't think," one person wrote.

"If you cook it, it'll burn the bacteria away," another commented.

Fox News Digital reached out to @madinahskitchen for comment.

Organic ground beef from the supermarket is in a bowl. (File photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

There are several viral ground-beef-washing videos that exist on TikTok – including footage from 2022 in which a user claimed the method to be "safe." That video garnered more than five million views.

And in 2020, users were apparently left confused by a TikTok video that had been uploaded to Twitter showing another home chef rinsing ground beef, Fox News Digital reported at the time. That video has since been removed after garnering millions of views.

Melanie Marcus, a chef and registered dietician from the greater Charlotte, North Carolina-area, said "washing ground beef before cooking it is not worth doing."

"Today, ground beef and poultry are cleaned during processing, so any further washing is unnecessary and can actually increase the risk of foodborne illness," Marcus told Fox News Digital.

While washing beef may seem like a harmless thing to do, it's not, according to Marcus.

"When water comes into contact with raw meat during washing, it can cause splashing, which spreads bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella to other surfaces and utensils in the kitchen," she said.  

"In fact, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) explicitly advises against washing meat and poultry, stating that it is not a safe way to remove bacteria," Marcus added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said people should not wash raw poultry or meat before cooking it.

"Even though some older recipes may call for this step," the CDC wrote on its website. "Washing raw poultry or meat can spread bacteria to other foods, utensils, and surfaces, and does not prevent illness."

So, how do you make sure the beef you're eating is free from bacteria?

"The best way to ensure safe consumption of ground beef is to cook it to an internal temperature of 160°F, which will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present," Marcus advised. 

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