Don't wash raw chicken, cooks urged
Health experts have urged people to stop washing chicken before they cook it to avoid food poisoning.
More than two-fifths of cooks say that they wash chicken as part of their food preparations, but the Food Standards Agency has issued a call to the public to stop the practice.
The FSA said that it can spread a type of bacteria around the kitchen through the splashing of water droplets.
Campylobacter bacteria is responsible for the majority of cases of food poisoning - with around 280,000 people affected across the UK each year. The FSA said four out of every five cases are caused by contaminated chicken.
While most cases result in people suffering from abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and vomiting, some cases can lead to more significant health problems.
The FSA has now urged cooks to stop washing chicken before cooking it, saying the practice can spread campylobacter bacteria on to hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment through splashed water.
"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," said FSA chief executive Catherine Brown.
" 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.
"Campylobacter is a serious issue. Not only can it cause severe illness and death, but it costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year as a result of sickness absence and the burden on the NHS.
"Telling the public about the risks and how to avoid them is just one part of our plan to tackle campylobacter. We are leading a campaign that brings together the whole food chain, which includes working with farmers and producers to reduce rates of campylobacter in flocks of broiler chickens and ensuring that slaughterhouses and processors are taking steps to minimise the levels of contamination in birds."