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MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Should Ever Rinse Raw Chicken?

When it comes to food safety, it pays to be careful. Properly handling & preparing meat, fish, and poultry to minimize the risk of foodborne illness is key. But one step some people might’ve picked up from relatives or some misguided online advice actually has the potential to increase your chances of getting sick: rinsing raw chicken, which is actually a very bad idea. And here’s why…

Some home chefs (and maybe even some commercial chefs) believe washing raw chicken can help remove pathogens like Salmonella. That is possible…but it’s totally unnecessary. Because cooking poultry up to 165° F will kill off any dangerous bacteria.

But it’s not just about wasted time & effort. According to the USDA, rinsing chicken allows harmful bacteria to spread. A 2019 USDA observational study found bacteria was present in 60% of sinks used to wash poultry; and those sinks still had lingering bacteria even after being cleaned. Because cooks use sinks to rinse foods like lettuce or other vegetables, there’s a really high potential for cross-contamination. And the sink isn’t the only place chickens spread germs. Because water is hitting a hard surface—the uncooked chicken—there’s high potential for contaminated water to splash nearby targets, like clean prep surfaces, dishes, or other food.

Rinsing chicken has origins in how raw meat was sold decades ago. At the time, it wasn’t uncommon for meat to be stocked without any cleaning, leaving residue or other contaminants that made rinsing a reasonable step. But celebrity chefs like Julia Child helped popularize the practice. Nowadays, better food standards mean chicken is already rinsed & cleaned before it’s packaged.

If you want to soak up water already collected on raw chicken, use disposable paper towels then immediately throw them away. Any sponges used to clean where raw poultry has contacted the surface should also be tossed instead of reused. It’s also a good idea to rinse any vegetables before (and after) handling raw chicken.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? end me an email:  [email protected].


MUNDANE MYSTERIES: What Is A “Gift Horse”, and Why Shouldn’t You Look In Its Mouth?

Like many old proverbs, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” used to have a very literal meaning before the passage of time turned it into a figure of speech. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth means being thankful for a gift, even if you secretly wished for something else.

The phrase originated long before the invention of cars, when horses were widely used for work and transportation. The first appearance of this particular proverb is often traced back to A Dialogue: Of the Effectual Proverbs in the English Tongue, published in 1546 by London’s John Heywood, where he argues that “No man ought to look a given horse in the mouth.” But the phrase appears to be much older, with etymologists pointing to Saint Jerome of Stridon, an early Catholic priest who, in his 400 AD commentary on the Bible’s book of Ephesians, wrote, “Noli equi dentes inspicere donati,” which translates to “Never inspect the teeth of a given horse.”

But why a horse? And, more specifically, why its mouth? As any modern-day equestrian could tell you, a horse’s teeth betray its age. You see, horses have two sets of teeth, baby teeth & adult teeth. The older a horse gets, the more its adult teeth elongate & project outward (which is also where we get another equine idiom, “Long in the tooth”). When people needed horses every day, a horse’s value was based on his age. So, if you were going to buy a horse, you’d want to know its age before offering a price. However, if someone offered you a horse for free, it was considered rude to look into its mouth & inspect its age, just as it is considered improper nowadays when you look up your Christmas gift’s price tag on Amazon.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me an email:  [email protected].



Surprisingly, dead people can tan! According to a paper published in The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology in 2023, “postmortem tanning”, as it’s called, has & does occur. The paper analyzed 3 instances of bodies that demonstrated sun damage via tan lines that matched their clothing. In the first, a woman, who was found frozen, got thawed out in a laboratory, and handlers found the body had “brown pigment transformation” on exposed areas of the skin while the skin underneath her clothing was unaffected. Then there was a male body that was recovered after having been hit by a car. After having been exposed to the sun for several hours before being located by authorities, that body’s tanned skin was also consistent with the awkward pattern of how their clothes were arranged. And in the 3rd case, a male gunshot victim also presented with tanned skin in an area of his body exposed due to rumpled clothing.

What makes these scenarios interesting (and kind of creepy) is that tanning is basically how a living person’s skin responds to harmful UV rays; it’s a metabolic process that shouldn’t happen in the dead. In two of the cases, though, the bodies were discovered in freezing temperatures, so experts think the necessary metabolic pathways were theoretically preserved somehow. But that doesn’t explain the third body, which was retrieved in a warm summer climate.

It’s important to note that there are other causes of skin color changes in death. Mummification can darken the skin when it becomes dehydrated & brittle, as in dry, hot climates. There’s also a phenomenon known as “bog body formation,” in which corpses left in acidic peat bogs prompt a chemical response in the skin that can lead to browning. But while the subject matter may seem morbid, postmortem tanning could be a key factor in forensic analysis, since it could help determine a time of death & potentially lead to answers in a criminal investigation. Of course, sun exposure can also be a cause of death, too, which is why you should always wear sunscreen.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me an email:  [email protected].


Andy Webb, a 27-year Radio entertainer & content creator, is WFRE’s Program Director & host of “The Free Country Free Ride” weekday afternoons from 3pm-7pm.

From his very first job in 1995 in his hometown of Meridian, MS, Radio has been the only occupation Andy’s ever known; from the age of reel-to-reel tape to today’s digital audio, he worked his way up through late-night air shifts all the way up to morning drive. Andy’s been featured across many different formats, including Country, Classic Rock, Adult Contemporary, Hot AC, Southern Gospel, and even Urban AC.

As testament to his talents & commitment to fun-yet-informative Radio, Andy was awarded the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters’ “Radio Personality of the Year” award 4-out-of-5 years, from 2006 to 2011. And he’s been named one of the “Best Program Directors in Country Radio” by Radio Ink magazine in both 2022 & 2023.

Andy attended The University of Southern Mississippi on an Opera Performance scholarship, but he always followed the path Radio set before him, a path which has taken him from his hometown to Hattiesburg, MS, to Charleston, SC, and now Frederick, MD.

Andy is devoted to his wife, Emma (WFRE’s Midday host), and daughter, Isabel, and loves spending his infrequent free time golfing, wood-working, motorcycle riding, and horseback riding.

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