Should You Rinse Ground Beef? Experts Weigh In

This social media trend could have some unsafe consequences.

cooked ground beef in skillet

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

TikTok has delivered some terrific ideas when it comes to cooking at home, like the best way to chop onions , an easy baked feta pasta dish with just a handful of ingredients, and hot honey chicken that doesn’t require a trip to Nashville.

Recently, a TikTok video about washing ground beef has once again gone viral. The idea surprised us, so we checked in with the experts to get to the bottom of the question: Should you wash your ground beef before or after cooking, or at all?

Is There Any Reason To Wash Ground Beef?

“The most important thing to know is that the U.S. food system ensures that all beef is safe to eat and does not need to be washed prior to cooking," Diana Clark, a meat scientist with Certified Angus Beef , tells Southern Living . "If you are worried about food safety, the best practices are to keep ground beef stored in the refrigerator to keep it cool and fresh, and to then cook your ground beef to 160 degrees."

If you do decide to wash your ground beef before cooking, Clark says that it’s important to make sure you're cleaning your sink and surrounding surfaces to avoid the spread of bacteria that could make someone in your house sick.

"In fact, USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] notes that water can splash bacteria up to three feet surrounding your sink, so it’s vital to clean those surrounding areas to avoid any cross contamination," she adds.

Heidi Meyer, co-creator of Pound of Ground Crumbles , concurs.

“I believe the wisdom suggests you should not wash raw ground beef for fear of splattering raw juices throughout your kitchen,” she says. “Either way you should always cook ground beef to a safe and savory 160°F."

What About Washing Ground Beef After Cooking It?

"We've also seen the trend of washing ground beef after it’s been cooked," says Clark. "From a food safety standpoint, there’s no need, but if you're worried about the grease, my suggestion is to simply drain your ground beef. Anything that remains is going to be the great flavor that you don’t want to miss out on."

What do chefs have to say about the washing ground beef trend? We checked in with Ferrell Alvarez, a Tampa-based chef and restauranteur with The Proper House Group. Nebraska Mini-Mart , which is under the group's umbrella of restaurants, features hamburgers on the menu.

"I’ve never heard of rinsing ground beef, ever,” says Alvarez. “I don’t think it’s going to harm anything, but there’s no point at all."

Bottom Line

Put down the colander. Rinsing raw ground beef could pose a health risk by splashing bacteria-filled juices all over your kitchen's surfaces.

After the beef has been cooked, you're just rinsing away good flavor. If you want to get rid of some of the grease, drain the beef, but don't rinse it. It's just not necessary.

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