So what's all this about campylobacter?

Here are some of the questions you've been asking...

  • What exactly is campylobacter?

    It is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, with four out of five cases coming from poultry. Symptoms (including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting) usually develop two to five days after eating the contaminated food but most people recover without treatment within two to five days.

  • Can I see Campylobacter?

    You can’t see, smell or even taste Campylobacter.

  • Is there a real risk of my family getting food poisoning from chicken?

    If you and your family practice good hygiene when handling raw chicken (see below for details) then there should be no risk of getting campylobacter.

    However, if you are concerned, we have a tasty chicken range in store, which you don't have to touch at all. You simply put the chicken, in its bag, straight in the oven. All the hard work has been done – some have also been flavoured with herbs and spices.

  • We eat chicken a lot but now I’m worried about touching it. Is it ok to touch raw chicken?

    Yes, it’s absolutely fine to touch raw chicken, so long as you wash your hands and any kitchen utensils, chopping boards and surfaces properly afterwards, just don’t wash the chicken itself (see below for reasons why). Use a good surface cleaner on surfaces that the chicken has touched, and wash utensils, chopping boards and hands in warm soapy water. It is a good idea to have a separate chopping board for raw meat to avoid cross-contamination. 

  • How should I store raw chicken?

    Make sure you put any leftover raw chicken in a sealed, clean container on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it can't touch or drip on to other foods. And eat it up within the use-by date on the packaging.

  • Why should you not wash your chicken before cooking it?

    Contrary to popular belief, washing raw chicken doesn't remove bacteria – only cooking it properly kills bacteria. When washing chicken the water can splash, potentially spreading bacteria from the chicken onto hands, kitchen surfaces, clothes and cooking utensils.

  • What is the safest way to cook chicken?

    If you practice good hygiene when handling raw chicken (see tips above) and put the chicken directly onto a roasting dish or into a pan, without washing it, then cooking chicken is safe. Just follow the on-pack instructions to find out how long to cook it for and at what temperature setting. And make sure you check the meat is cooked through before serving (see tips below).

  • How do you know when chicken is cooked properly?

    To check that chicken is cooked properly, simply cut into the thickest part of the meat (this is the shoulder on a whole chicken) and make sure the juices are running clear, with no pink meat or bloody juices visible. Then you can serve it up and enjoy!

  • Why can’t you make all your chicken campylobacter free?

    We have made great progress in reducing the incidence of Campylobacter but it is a naturally occurring bacteria and is difficult to completely eliminate.  However, along with the FSA, industry and suppliers, we continue to put in place measures to reduce the incidence and to o invest in research and trials with the aim of eliminating Campylobacter on farms and throughout the supply chain.