World Food Safety Day: Wash your hands, not raw chicken

With more people now cooking at home than ever before, safefood in recognition of World Food Safety Day on Sunday 7th June 2020 is reminding people never wash raw chicken to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Washing raw chicken can spread the food poisoning bacteria, Campylobacter, up to an arm’s length from your sink, which can lead to a potentially dangerous form of food poisoning.

There were 1,475 reported cases of Campylobacter in Northern Ireland in 2018 – that is up from 1,421 in 2017.

Recent research by safefood has also revealed that 33% of people rate chicken as the food of most concern when thinking about food safety and preparing food.

Dr Gary Kearney, Director, Food Science, safefood said; “The restrictions caused by Covid-19 means that more of us are cooking at home than ever before. For some people, that might mean cooking from scratch for the very first time. So we’d like to remind you that if you’re preparing chicken, never wash it.

“While you might think you’re cleaning it, you’re actually spreading harmful bacteria up to 80cm, or about an arm’s length, from your sink. It’s thorough cooking of chicken that safely destroys any food poisoning bacteria that are on it. Chicken is cooked thoroughly when it is piping hot, with no pink meat and the juices are running clear.”

“Wash your hands before and after handling raw chicken and wash any utensils or work surfaces that come into contact with it to prevent cross-contamination in your kitchen. Those most at risk of getting sick from food poisoning are the very young, the elderly, those with an existing medical condition and pregnant women. So the advice is always to wash your hands and never wash raw chicken.”

For more information on the World Health Organization’s World Food Safety Day, visit

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