'Stop! Washing chicken before cooking can cause food poisoning'

Don't wash that chicken

Don't wash that chicken. Washing chicken puts you at a higher risk of getting food poisoning, in addition to spreading bacteria around the kitchen, Australian researchers claim.

"Home cooks are probably following what their parents or grandparents did in the past by washing poultry, not to mention probably patting it dry with a tea towel," Food Safety Information Council Chairman, Dr Michael Eyles, said.

"But washing poultry splashes these bacteria around the kitchen cross contaminating sinks, taps, your hands, utensils, chopping boards and foods that aren't going to be cooked like salads or desserts," Eyles said.

Researchers found that that six in ten Aussies are guilty of this "foodie crime", 'News.com.au' reported.

The Newspoll survey also found that the washing phenomenon isn't just restricted to chicken. 68 per cent of respondents wash turkey and 74 per cent wash duck before cooking.

Doctors believe this could be one of the reasons why notified cases of illness from Campylobacter and Salmonella - bacterias associated with food poisoning - have almost doubled over the last 20 years in Australia.

But the zealousness of trying to rid chicken of bacteria isn't entirely unfounded.

According to the survey, 84 per cent of raw chicken carcasses tested positive to Campylobacter, and 22 per cent to Salmonella. This is similar to the findings of other surveys overseas, the report said.

"Cooking poultry right through kills these bacteria, making it safe" Eyles said.

To reduce the risk of getting sick from poultry, doctors advise people not to wash raw poultry before cooking, instead mop up any excess moisture with a paper towel.

People should always wash and dry hands and clean surfaces after contact with raw poultry and be careful not to let raw poultry juices contaminate other foods, especially things like desserts or salads, which won't be cooked again.

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