Do You Wash Ground Beef? See Why You Shouldn’t

There is no need to wash ground beef. Doing so could actually increase the risk of foodborne illnesses. Ground beef should be cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

The idea of washing beef before cooking was only a common practice decades ago. In this day and age, meat and poultry are cleaned to exceedingly high levels when they are being processed. So, washing ground beef is simply unnecessary.

Washing your ground beef is not recommended even by the U.S Food Safety and Inspection Service. Whether you rinse it in the kitchen sink or soak it in salt water, lemon juice, or vinegar, this olden-day practice will do more harm than good.

In this article, I will be discussing ground beef, why people wash their ground beef, why you should not wash it, and how to cook it so it is safe for eating.

What is ground beef?

Ground beef, beef mince, or minced beef is beef that has been finely chopped with a knife, a meat grinder, or a mincing machine. It is used in many recipes, including hamburgers, bolognese sauce, meatballs, meatloaf, and kofta.

Ground beef is made up of only skeletal muscles attached to bone, no offal meat such as organs. Some retailers feature ground round, sirloin, or chuck.

SEE: What Is Ground Rice

Why do people wash their ground beef?

Some people wash their ground beef because they have seen their parents or older relatives do so. Thus, it become a learned habit they picked up.

As mentioned earlier, this habit was probably justified decades ago. But, food processing technology and research have since come a long way, and thus, it has become a redundant practice.

Some individuals are paranoid about food safety and will wash their ground beef repeatedly without debate. Well, it is simply not required or recommended from a food safety perspective, as confirmed by the U.S Food Safety and Inspection Service.

SEE: How To Use A Meat Grinder

Why you shouldn’t wash your ground beef

1. Cooking already kills microbes or bacteria

There is no point in cleaning your ground beef to wash away the microbes. This is because when you cook your ground beef to safe eating temperatures of 160°F or higher, all microbes present will be dead already.

The high heat is sufficient to eliminate all nasty things or bacteria that, by chance, remain in the meat.

SEE: If Spam is Healthy For You

2. The beef is already clean

It is 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 beef.

In this circumstance, then it is okay washing the whole meat before you grind it up. However, if you bought meat from a butcher or the local grocery, the meat will already be clean.

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

SEE: Can You Marinade Ground Beef?

3. Increases the risk of cross-contamination

Suppose there were any bacteria on the beef. Cooking the beef effectively kills all, as per the U.S Food Safety and Inspection service. In cases where you decide to wash your ground beef, the water droplets from the meat could spill on other surfaces or utensils.

If you don’t properly clean your kitchen after washing your meat, microbes such as E. coli and salmonella may grow around these contaminated areas. You can get sick if you touch the utensil or surface later.

SEE: Transformative Techniques to Clean Your Kitchen

4. You may degrade the quality of the beef

By washing ground beef, you add more moisture into the crevices of the meat. Inevitably, you would not be able to dry all this moisture off. When you go to cook ground beef, it is much more likely to steam the meat rather than get an incredible sear and nice beef color.

This makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture of the ground beef. As a matter of fact, while washing your ground beef, you run the risk of cleaning products like soap coming in contact with the meat. These chemicals can ruin the texture of the meat and is also unsafe.

How to cook beef so it is safe for eating

The USDA’s food safety service recommends using a food thermometer in cooking your beef. It is the only sure way of knowing if your food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria or microbes.

USDA food safety experts say cook all raw beef and veal steaks, roasts, and chops to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

For safety and quality (if you cut the meat too soon, you lose all those delectable juices), allow the meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

SEE: If Lamb is Considered Beef

How can you be sure that your ground beef is safe to eat? 

Harmful bacteria may or may not be present in ground meat products, and there is no way of knowing for sure. Proper cooking is the only reliable method of ensuring that ground meats are safe to eat. 

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria. 

Thorough cooking is essential if the food is to be served to children, the elderly, or other people who may be more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.

SEE: Ways to Know When Your Meat Is Done


Should chicken mince be washed?

No, it shouldn’t. Washing raw chicken before cooking may increase the risk of food poisoning from campylobacter bacteria. 

How long does it take to cook minced meat?

It takes about 15 – 20 minutes total to cook. 

SEE: Can You Store Raw Ground Beef In The Fridge For 7 Days?

Why does your ground beef taste weird?

Probably you ate spoilt ground beef. Spoilage and pathogenic bacteria may both affect ground beef.

Will freezing ground beef kill the bacteria? 

Freezing can kill some bacteria, but others can survive refrigerator and freezer temperatures.

Conclusion: Do you wash ground beef?

Generally, washing ground meat is not recommended, as it increases the risk of sickness by cross-contamination. It is much easier to cook the meat to a food-safe temperature to eliminate any potential microbes or bacteria.

Plus, by washing ground beef, you are sacrificing the taste and texture of your meat, as inevitably, you are adding more moisture to the meat. For safety, use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

Some people prefer soaking ground beef in water. This is a personal preference and serves no purpose for food safety, and the USDA does not recommend it.

If you enjoyed this article, you should also see what ground rice is and how beneficial it is to your diet.

Thank you for reading.