Cross-contamination from raw chicken is a bigger threat than many people might realize, with the potential to contaminate areas of the kitchen that never even made direct contact with any poultry. Luckily, this threat can easily be avoided:
“Don’t wash raw chicken. Cook it!”
While raw chicken and turkey can carry bacteria on their surfaces, it has been shown that washing raw poultry under running water in the kitchen sink is a bad idea, since it will risk contaminating kitchens with bacteria such as Campylobacter, the most common type of food poisoning in the UK.
Campylobacter bacteria can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, which occur two to five days after infection. The diarrhea can sometimes contain blood. Other symptoms of campylobacter infection can include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It usually lasts for three to six days. Campylobacter infection can be fatal in young children, elderly and people who have a lowered immune system.
If microbes were visible to the naked eye, we would see that washing poultry just splashes bacteria all over:
• Hands, human skin and clothing
• Kitchen towels
• Countertops, sinks and utensils
• Cooking equipment
• Any other food items present nearby
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE RAW CHICKEN?
1. Defrost chicken at the very bottom of the refrigerator, away from high-risk food.
2. Cook defrosted chicken within 24 hours.
3. Cover and chill fresh raw chicken below 5°C.
4. Store raw chicken at the bottom of the fridge thus avoiding cross contamination.
5. Do not rinse, wash or soak raw chicken.
6. Cook chicken thoroughly above 75°C. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present including Campylobacter.
7. Consume cooked chicken immediately or cool within two hours and store inside the refrigerator, away from raw food.
8. Clean up splashes using a disinfectant.
9. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken.
10. Wash and disinfect utensils and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken.