News item

Hackney residents urged to stop washing raw chicken

Hackney Council is advising residents that there is no need to wash raw chicken because cooking kills bacteria.

The Council is reinforcing advice from the Food Standards Agency, as part of its activity during Food Safety Week  (16–22 June). 

Raw and undercooked chicken can spread bacteria called campylobacter and it can’t be seen, smelt or tasted. Campylobacter poisoning can result in abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. In certain cases it can also lead to irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome – a serious medical condition. And in extreme cases campylobacter can kill. 

Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. There were 112 confirmed cases in Hackney last year; all ended up needing to visit their doctor.

To spread this important food safety message Hackney Council’s Environmental Health Team will be at Ridley Road Market on Friday 20 June,11am- 4pm. Staff will be on hand to give food hygiene advice and tips that can help reduce the risk of illness. 

Consumers will be advised not to clean raw chicken either with water or lemon and vinegar as this doesn't kill the germs. It only spreads them around the kitchen and by splashing it onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment. This is known as cross-contamination. 

There are four steps that can be taken to avoid campylobacter

1. Cover and chill raw chicken

2. Don’t wash raw chicken 

3. Wash used utensils 

4. Cook chicken thoroughly

Cllr Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, said; 

“I know washing chicken sounds a good idea but it isn’t – it spreads disease rather than prevents it.  Cooking chicken kills harmful bacteria. We are encouraging people to visit the team at Ridley Road market for current advice and tips on cooking and food preparation that could prevent future illness.”

Hackney Council also offers a range of training courses for people in the borough working with and handling food. The courses, which will run throughout the year at the Hackney Service Centre are backed by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH), and taught by professional Environmental Health staff registered by the Environmental Health Registration Board. Courses will cost £65.00 per person and will usually run from 9.00am to 5.00pm. Bookings are now being taken for the Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering issued by the Royal Society for Public Health. The next dates are 26 June, 14 and 28 July, 7 and 21 Aug. Application forms are available from 020 8356 4911 or  

More information available at  

Find out more Food Standards Agency Food Safety Week (16–22 June) campaign   

Nicola Quinn 

Media Officer 

Hackney Council 

Tel: 020 8356 3261 


Out of hours press office: 07528 969 363 

DATE: 10 June 2014