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Ask the experts: Raw chicken

Q: "Do I need to be more careful with raw chicken than other meat?"

A: We need to be careful handling all raw meat as it can contain harmful bacteria, and there’s no way to tell. Campylobacter is a major cause of foodborne illness in New Zealand and raw meat, especially chicken, is one of the sources. Raw chicken contains more liquid than other meats, so it can be easier to spread bacteria. Also, raw chicken is more often contaminated with Campylobacter.

To avoid contaminating other foods when handling raw meat:

  • Wash hands with soap and hot water before and after handling raw meat
  • Wash chopping boards, dishes, utensils and benches with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Use a separate chopping board for raw meat
  • Don’t rinse raw meat before cooking: this can spread bacteria in the kitchen
  • Never put cooked food on a plate or chopping board that previously held raw meat
  • Keep meats and their juices away from already-cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) also advises us to always defrost chicken in the fridge and not on the bench where harmful bacteria can quickly multiply. And place meat in the bottom of the fridge, where juices won’t leak onto other foods.

First published: Jun 2010



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