Chattooga County Extension Agent Rebecca Thomas said that several 4H students have been asked by judges in recent Food Safety competitions about washing chicken bought at the grocery store.  Thomas said that it is NOT recommended that chicken purchased at a retail grocery store be washed.  According to the County Extension agent the risk of spreading food born disease around the kitchen is increased by washing the poultry.  Commercially processed chicken is already subjected to rounds of washing in a chlorinated water solution.  Thomas said that "you will not wash off enough to ensure safety." 

Thomas aid that  the product must be cooked to be safe.  She recommends that If judges asked a 4-H student about washing the chicken, the 4-H’er should explain that the current recommendations are to just cook the chicken to eliminate the risk of food borne illness and that washing poses more risk of cross-contamination.

According to the county extension agent, the same is basically true for packaged salads.  It will not hurt to rinse these, but if they are contaminated with disease-causing organisms, it is not going to help much either.  Again, there is risk of getting the produce contaminated from the surrounding kitchen.  When you tour food processing facilities where they are making the "fresh-cut" products as these are called, you will see clear glass pipelines everywhere with cut-up produce running through them in chlorinated water.  Washing it at home is not going to really do anything.  Produce has so many openings in leaves, etc. that if it is contaminated with disease-causing organisms, then it is probably going to stay contaminated.  Even studies with contaminated produce soaked in extremely strong chlorine solutions have shown that the contamination can still be there because it is difficult to actually get to all the contamination in nooks and crannies.  The key to safety of these products is not to let the products get contaminated with pathogens in the first place.

If it says ready to eat or no washing needed, then I would not wash them again.  The important thing with the packaged produce mixes is to use them by the date on the package and keep them properly refrigerated.  The more products are handled, the more chances there are for contamination to occur.