Washing raw chicken before cooking it, a common practice in much of the world, may actually increase your risk of spreading harmful bacteria around your kitchen, according to a new study from Britain.
British health authorities estimate that as much as 65 percent of store-bought chicken is contaminated with campylobacter, the most commonly-identified cause of foodborne illness in the U.K.
Cooking poultry properly kills the nasty bacteria that can lead to stomach illness and diarrhea. But the new study from the U.K. showed that washing chicken meat could spread the campylobacter across a 3-foot radius in the kitchen, potentially contaminating other work surfaces and foods.
A spokeswoman for the British health authorities had this warning for consumers:
''Washing raw poultry is a common kitchen mistake, and it simply isn't necessary. Tap water won't get rid of the germs that cause food poisoning but they will be killed by thorough cooking. By washing your raw bird, you're actually more likely to spread the germs around the kitchen than get rid of them.''
British authorities are looking for ways to wash bacteria off chicken meat before it reaches stores, but no method has been approved by European regulators.
Photo: Stu Spivak/Creative Commons via Flickr