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Don't wash raw chicken

By
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
healthy chicken meal

16th June 2014 – A large percentage of us, (44%) always wash chicken before cooking it, either because we think it will get rid of germs or because it's what we've always done. However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is urging people not to continue the practise in an effort to reduce the number of cases of food poisoning.

Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, it causes more cases of food poisoning than E.coli, listeria and salmonella put together.

Around 4 in 5 cases of campylobacter come from contaminated poultry. If you wash chicken you can spread campylobacter bacteria onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment through the splashing of water droplets.

The resulting illness can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In certain cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious condition of the nervous system. At its worst, it can kill. Those most at risk are children under 5 and older people.

Chefs & chicken livers

As part of its campaign the FSA has written to those production companies which make food programmes, asking them to ensure that people aren’t shown washing raw chicken on TV.

Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that since the year 2000 there have been 1,595 people affected in outbreaks of food poisoning caused by campylobacter bacteria. All of them were associated with eating poultry products and 80% of the people who became ill reported eating chicken liver dishes.

Chicken liver parfait/pate dishes have increased in popularity over the last few years and many chefs recommend leaving the centre of the livers pink, which does not kill the bacteria. PHE records show that the number of people linked to outbreaks where chicken livers were implicated has risen from eight people in 2000 to 210 in 2013.

Cooking food thoroughly, especially meat, so that it's piping hot, will destroy any campylobacter bacteria.

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