Microbiologist Arthur Hinton, Jr., and chemist Ronald Holser of the ARS Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens, Ga., conducted studies comparing the ability of very hard, moderately hard, and "soft" water to rinse away bacteria like campylobacter, staphylococcus and pseudomonas from the skin of broiler chicken carcasses.

Study results indicate that processing water hardness may be a characteristic that should be monitored by poultry processors. After five rinses in each water type, soft water removed up to 37% more bacteria from the chicken skin than the hard water types.


Very hard water was prepared by dissolving calcium chloride and magnesium chloride in distilled water, while moderately hard water was prepared by diluting one part very hard water with one part soft water. Potassium citrate was used to reduce water hardness.

For more detailed information on this study, visit the USDA website.