Many people around the world have a common culinary habit to wash the chicken thoroughly before cooking it.
But, we’re here to warn you that washing raw chicken before it’s cooked can pose a serious health threat because splashing tap water can disperse the bacteria from the chicken (Campylobacter, for example) on your hands, clothes and kitchen utensils. In reality, water drops can fall as far as 50 cm in all directions, and it takes only several Campylobacter cells to cause food poisoning.
The most common cause of food poisoning is this bacterium which is leading to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fever and vomiting. The symptoms of this serious condition normally appear 2-5 days after eating contaminated food. The symptoms usually disappear without treatment for the same period. The Campylobacter infection can trigger irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis, miscarriage and Guillain-Barre syndrome in some of the more serious cases.
Groups of particular risk are young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune system, especially those affected with HIV and cancer.
Washing raw chicken, especially the blood residues, does not make it any cleaner or bacteria-free. You only achieve this when the chicken is cooked properly.
Freezing raw chicken cuts down the amount of Campylobacter, but it doesn’t remove it completely. The safest way to eliminate Campylobacter thoroughly is by cooking the chicken properly.
After the results of a survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) showed that 44% people still wash chicken before cooking, a warning to raise awareness against Campylobacter food poisoning was issued by the authorities.
Prevent Campylobacter poisoning
Cover and chill raw chicken
Cover your raw chicken and store it at the bottom of the fridge in order to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods and thus contaminate them. In this way, you minimize the risks of Campylobacter food poisoning.
Don’t wash raw chicken
Cooking, i.e. high temperature will destroy any bacteria present, including campylobacter. On the other hand, washing the chicken can only spread germs.
Wash used utensils
You also have to wash and clean all kitchen utensils thoroughly, chopping boards and surfaces that you use when preparing raw chicken. Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water as this also prevents the spread of campylobacter.
Cook chicken thoroughly
According to all of the above mentioned facts, proper cooking is essential for eliminating any risk of Campylobacter food poisoning. Your chicken should be steaming hot all the way through before serving. Check that the chicken is steaming hot and there isn’t pink, uncooked meat by cutting deep into the thickest part. The juices must also run clear.