Thank you all for sharing your personal point of view on this topic. Your various comments made one thing pretty clear: There is no absolute consensus on how to handle fresh meat (as well as poultry and fish). I won’t give recommendations here, but below you’ll find a little summary about the most prominent pros and cons on the issue. After all, it’s an individual thing and entirely up to you how you treat your meat.
Rinse meat – the Pros:
helps to get rid off possible salmonellea/bacteria
not super fresh meats may require rinsing to get rid of the smell
helps to get rid of any small bone fragments or excessive blood/meat juice
soft factor but convincing: the word of people who work in the industry (poultry)
Rinse meat – the Cons:
high temperature (roasting, etc.) kills all bacteria anyway
rinsing alone might not entirely get rid of bacteria
possible cross-contamination with bacteria (sponges, sink, appliances etc.)
no need to rinse, if you trust your butcher/shop
the advice to wash meat is a relic from an earlier time, when meat oftentimes wasn’t quite that fresh or it was covered with certain agents for preservation
Be scrupulous about choosing where to buy your meat. This may be a no-brainer, but the butcher should have a clean shop, meats and sausages should look fresh. They ought to be able to answer all your questions about origin and what meat to choose for what dish. A long line of customers is always a good sign (an observation I
have to can make every Saturday morning at my favorite butcher).
Try to choose organically raised meat. The prices may be higher, but there’s no need to eat meat every day and if handled correctly, the quality is much better. Aside from the moral issue.
Buy your meat just in time before using it, no unnecessary storing or freezing (unless you just got lucky and someone gave you half a pork as a present…).
Washed or not washed, always pad dry your meat with paper towels or similar to avoid splattering fat in the pan.
To minimize the risk of bacteria contamination, always use separate cutting boards for meats, poultry, fish and vegetables. Different colors might help to keep them apart.
And last but not least: I double checked with random cookbooks of mine and was not surprised to find many of them containing instructions to not only wash fish, seafood and poultry, but all kinds of meat. Some of the ones I picked out are very successful basic cookbooks, others written by star-awarded chefs. Which again proves one thing: There appears to be a general lack of common knowledge when it comes to rinsing meat (either way) – do chefs care or do they not? Or could this be a perfect showcase of famous chefs writing cookbooks (ghostwriters, hello?), providing advice they don’t practice in their own kitchens?
Mind you, this list isn’t comprehensive, but attests the discrepancy out there.
“Wash the veal breast” – The new Sacher cookbook, Alexandra Gürtler, Christoph Wagner p.101
“Rinse the lamb” – Falling cloudberries, Tessa Kiros, p.111
“Das Lammfilet waschen/wash the lamb filet” – Lean Cuisine, Frank Heppner, p.87
“Fleisch (Roastbeef) waschen/wash meat (roastbeef)” – Ich helf Dir kochen, Hedwig Maria Studer, p.76
“Die Keule waschen (Heidelamm)/wash leg (of lamb)” – Das große Kochbuch der guten Küche, Zabert Sandmann, p.354
“Schweinefilet abspülen/rinse pork fillet” – Das große Kochbuch der guten Küche, Zabert Sandmann, p.326
“Das Rindfleisch waschen/wash the beef” – Kräuter, Susanne Bodensteiner etc., p.170