‘Stop washing raw chicken’ - advice

Carrickfergus Borough Council has joined with the Food Standards Agency and Safefood to urge local residents to stop washing raw chicken.

The call comes after a study by the FSA in Northern Ireland found that more than 80 percent of people here are unaware of campylobacter, the bug that is the most common cause of food poisoning here. The UK-wide research shows that while 90 percent are familiar with the names of other bacteria like salmonella and E.coli, only 19 percent had ever heard of campylobacter, which is commonly found in raw chicken.

Dr Kirsten Dunbar from the FSA in NI said: “Over a third of people here wash chicken before cooking it and this can spread campylobacter bacteria onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment through splashing water.”

“Campylobacter is a serious issue - if it affects you, you really won’t forget it! The resulting illness can cause abdominal pain, as well as severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In certain cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. At its worst, it can kill.”

Fergal Mullan, Environmental Health representative for Carrick Council said: “There is no need to wash raw chicken as thorough cooking kills any bacteria. Our advice is to wash utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken as well as washing your hands. Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before you eat it - with no pink meat - and check that the juices run clear.”