Julia Child did it and, according to recent studies, so do about 90 percent of people: rinse their raw birds before cooking.
Washing raw chicken before cooking increases your risk of food poisoning from campylobacter.
Splashing water from washing chicken under a tap can spread the bacteria onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment.
Water droplets can travel more than 50 cm in every direction and only a few campylobacter cells are needed to cause food poisoning.
Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning.
Campylobacter poisoning can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, fever and vomiting.
Symptoms usually develop two to five days after eating the contaminated food, but most people recover without treatment within to two to five days.
In some cases, campylobacter infection can cause irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis, miscarriage and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
It can be fatal in young children, the elderly, and people who have a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV and cancer.
Cleaning raw chicken or washing off visible blood does not make it any more hygienic or remove bacteria – only thorough cooking achieves this.
Freezing raw chicken reduces levels of Campylobacter but does not eliminate it completely. The safest way to kill all traces of Campylobacter is by cooking chicken thoroughly.
The advice itself is not new, but the call has been issued after a survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found 44% of people still wash chicken before cooking.
Prevent campylobacter poisoning
- Cover and chill raw chicken
Cover raw chicken and store it at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as campylobacter.
- Don’t wash raw chicken
Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.
- Wash used utensils
Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of campylobacter.
- Cook chicken thoroughly
Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.