The U.K. Wants Everyone to Stop Washing Raw Chicken

Changing the way people prep chicken could cut down on food poisoning.

(Photo: Ian O'Leary/Getty Images)

Jun 18, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

Last year’s viral video has become a government-backed public-health campaign in the United Kingdom. Launched on Monday, the beginning of Food Safety Week, the British Food Standards Agency is making a big push to educate residents about Campylobacter, a bacteria that’s one of the leading causes of food poisoning in the U.K. Just like the video from Drexel University that went viral last summer, the FSA is trying to get people to stop washing raw chicken because bacteria is likely to splatter all over the kitchen.

“Although people tend to follow recommended practice when handling poultry, such as washing hands after touching raw chicken and making sure it is thoroughly cooked, our research has found that washing raw chicken is also common practice,” FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said in a press release. “That’s why we’re calling on people to stop washing raw chicken and also raising awareness of the risks of contracting Campylobacter as a result of cross-contamination.”

But there’s more to protecting people from Campylobacter than convincing them to not run a bird under the faucet before cooking it—there’s the issue of informing them that the bacteria exists in the first place. A survey from the FSA showed that while a full 90 percent of Brits are familiar with salmonella and E. coli, just 28 percent of people have heard of Campylobacter. Meanwhile, an estimated 280,000 infections occur in the U.K. annually.

Although the FSA’s nearly four-minute long video about the dangers of the bacteria will surely scare some people off washing chicken, it has yet to reach 11,000 views. According to the FSA, 44 percent of people turn on the tap while prepping poultry. The agency’s request that production companies not show chefs committing this food safety sin on cooking shows could have more of an effect on public behavior—even if people never learn that they’re keeping Campylobacter at bay.