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Washing raw chicken? Chicken washers beware: New study shows you're at risk

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If you are one that takes your raw chicken over to the sink for a little rub-a-dub wash time, you need to stop what you are doing, says a study conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK. Washing your raw bird greatly increases the risk of food poisoning, the study showed.

Fox News reported today that 44 percent of people in the UK opt to wash their chicken under water before cooking it. “However, washing raw chicken may lead to the spread of campylobacter bacteria, which can lead to a dangerous form of food poisoning,” writes Fox News.

The UK report explains:

When washed, campylobacter from raw chicken can be transferred into water droplets, which may splash onto neighboring surfaces, hands, clothing, and cooking utensils. If the campylobacter bacteria are ingested directly or via unwashed cutting boards and utensils, they can cause campylobacteriosis, characterized by symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, and fever.

That only makes sense. One can’t wash away the “rawness” of chicken, so unless you’ve dropped your family’s dinner on the ground, rinsing it under water is ineffectual. File this under the so-called two-second rule.

The study by UK’s Food Standard Agency reported that an estimated 280,000 people are affected by campylobacter poisoning per year, making it the most common form of food poisoning in the UK.

Consumer Affairs agreed, writing that cross-contamination, especially with meats like poultry, is a real risk.

Suggestions on how to prevent food poisoning? “Don't slice raw vegetables on the same cutting board you use to slice raw chicken, wash your hands and utensils carefully after they come in contact with raw chicken,” the site writes.

So don’t listen to Julia Child, who was a fan of chicken-washing. The Centers for Disease Control agreed, and cited stats for here in the US and globally:

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. Most cases occur as isolated, sporadic events, not as part of recognized outbreaks. About 14 cases are diagnosed each year for each 100,000 persons in the population. Many more cases go undiagnosed or unreported, and campylobacteriosis is estimated to affect over 1.3 million persons every year. Campylobacteriosis occurs much more frequently in the summer… Although Campylobacter infection does not commonly cause death, it has been estimated that approximately 76 persons with Campylobacter infections die each year.

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