Here’s What The Science Says

Actress and producer Paula Patton set off a viral debate on Friday when a video resurfaced that she had posted of herself on Instagram cooking fried chicken using her mother’s recipe. Some criticized Patton for her methods – including how long it seemed she cleaned her chicken and the fact that Patton seasoned the poultry after coating it with flour and putting it in the grease.

Originally posted on March 4, the video shows Patton making 16 pounds of fried chicken for her son Julian and his classmates. Olympic track star Ashley Spencer posted the video to TikTok on Monday, April 4 with added commentary.

This led to a viral weighing-in on the correct way to cook and clean chicken as well as whether or not cleaning it is even necessary.

“That chicken ain’t clean … where’s the seasoning? Are you going to season it? You got dirty flour and unseasoned chicken. Where are your seasonings, Paula? This is your Mom’s recipe,” Spencer asked during her narration of the video.

She wasn’t the only one who found Patton’s method of cooking and washing chicken lacking.

“From the piss-poor washing of the chicken, to the flavoring of the grease/oil, to the way she kept smiling confidently into the camera like she was doin’ the damn thang were obvious red flags – nvm,” @Kellie_Pryor tweeted. “You broke this down eloquently!”

“Why are y’all surprised??? Her momma is white! Love you Paula but this ain’t it,” @sherriannelle wrote under an Instagram post from Dish Nation discussing Paula’s recipe.

“Smh that’s horrible its not done she did not washed that properly not enough oil the grease started to burn it not crispy at all smh 🤦🏼‍♀️ and only three seasoning lol,” Instagram user @damn_reeree commented.

Others, however, said it isn’t necessary to wash your chicken before cooking it and doing so could actually cause more harm than good.

“Side note: I want to free my people from thinking they can clean/wash chicken. Y’all are just contaminating your kitchen surfaces,” @Black_Daria1 tweeted. “Heat from cooking the chicken kills the bacteria, not rinsing with water, vinegar, etc. Take a food safety class if you don’t believe me.”

“I’ve been telling people this for years, but people want to fight you over not washing chicken,” @wjeromecoleman agreed, adding a lughing emoji and link to a YouTube video labeled “Why You Should Not Wash Meat or Poultry.”

Some Black social media users said they weren’t OK with cooking “dirty” chicken.

“Ummm heat ain’t got nothing to do with getting that slime off the chicken,” @xoskyemoon tweeted.

“I mean I rinse mine, but I don’t know what else she wanted her to clean it with besides soap,” Twitter user @BertaCBaby wrote.

“Not soap.But rather some acid that naturally kills bacteria like vinegar or lemon or lime juice,” @itsyourspa17 responded.

While everyone has an opinion on the matter, a food scientist said science sides with the non-washing folks. Professor Jennifer Quinlan is the interim chairwoman of food and nutrition sciences at Drexel University.

“The minute you introduce water, you give those pathogens the ability to move from the chicken to elsewhere in your kitchen,” Quinlan told Inverse. “The way food is processed has changed, such that we don’t generally need to wash off your chicken now. … [Processing] really changed drastically in the mid-1990s… and I don’t think most people are aware of that.”

“If you’re buying chicken the way most of us buy chicken — from a regulated facility in the U.S. — your chicken has been washed multiple times,” Quinian added.

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Despite the viral backlash, Patton responded to people’s differences of opinion with joy and humility. She said she woke up to messages from people asking if she’d seen the comments on social media about her recipe.

“I just wanted to respond and say listen, I get it, it might look crazy. It is the way we do it,” Patton said in a follow-up video she posted to Instagram. “It’s all good, because everybody’s got their own way of making things and I’ll take suggestions. I’ll make a new kind of fried chicken, but I’m going to always make my mom’s chicken the way that she did it. We put the seasonings in the oil and all that — it’s just the way we do it.”

Patton clarified that she washed the chicken longer than shown in the video because she believes in washing chicken and sent everyone her love and appreciation for “comments and room for improvement.”

Patton is known for her acting roles in “Hitch” (2005), “Deja Vu” (2006), “Precious” (2009), “Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol” (2011) and “Warcraft” (2016), among others.

Photos: Paula Patton arrives at the Soul Train Music Awards at the Apollo Theater, Nov. 20, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP) / Chicken photo by chokmoso, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/chokmoso?mediatype=photography

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