Don’t wash raw chicken!

The message of this year‟s Food Safety Week is „don‟t wash raw chicken‟ and Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) are working to spread the word to local consumers.
The Food Standards Agency is spearheading a campaign to tackle the problem of food bug campylobacter, which is often spread through washing chicken and is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, chair of WRS, said: “Food safety inspectors check that food businesses prepare and cook chicken safely but consumers also need to be aware of the risks and the best way to avoid getting ill. You can‟t see campylobacter, smell it or even taste it on food, but if you get it you won‟t forget it. At its worst, it can kill.”

“One of the main ways to get and spread campylobacter food poisoning is through touching raw chicken – in particular, washing raw chicken can spread campylobacter by splashing it onto work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment. If everyone works together we can eliminate the risks.”

The Environmental Health Team is urging all residents to get behind the campaign and stop washing chicken at home. Here are some top tips to make sure your food is safe to eat:

Chill food properly

  • Make sure the fridge temperature is running below 5 ºC.
  • Don‟t overfill your fridge. This allows air to circulate and maintains the set temperature.
  • Always store raw poultry at the bottom of the fridge and properly wrap or cover it to avoid raw juices contaminating other foods.
  • Avoid Cross Contamination Cross contamination occurs when harmful germs such as campylobacter are spread between food, surfaces and equipment. Help to prevent this by removing clutter that you don‟t need and washing worktops before and after food preparation.
  • Keep raw foods well away from ready to eat foods such as salads, cheeses, cold desserts etc.
  • Always use a chopping board. Wash the board and other utensils in hot, soapy water when you‟ve finished using them and in between preparing raw foods.


  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before preparing and after handling raw food such as chicken.
  • Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken.
  • Wash or change dish cloths, tea towels and sponges regularly and let them dry before you use them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.

Cooking chicken thoroughly

  • Cook chicken thoroughly until it is steaming hot in the middle. This will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.

What is campylobacter?

Campylobacter poisoning usually develops a few days after consuming contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting. It can last for between 2 and 10 days and can be particularly severe in small children and the elderly. In some cases (very rare), it can spark off irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reactive arthritis and in rare cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome – a serious and sometimes permanent condition of the nervous system. Campylobacter causes an unacceptably high public health burden, and the main responsibility for addressing this rests with the food industry.

For more information call the Press Office direct on   01527 881296.