The U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a call to the public to stop washing raw chicken to reduce the risk of contracting Campylobacter. It comes as the results of a new survey show that 44 percent of U.K. consumers always wash chicken before cooking it. 

Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning the country, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year. Around four in five of these cases come from contaminated poultry. 

As part of the call, which comes at the start of the country’s Food Safety Week, the FSA has written to production companies that make food programs asking them to ensure that people aren’t shown washing raw chicken on the television.

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Lack of awareness

Other initiatives include videos shown at supermarket checkouts warning against washing raw chicken, and online materials detailing how to handle raw chicken in the kitchen. 

The FSA survey found that levels of awareness of Campylobacter are well below that of other forms of food poisoning. More than 90 percent of the public have heard of Salmonella and E. coli, whereas only 28 percent of people know about Campylobacter. Furthermore, of the people who have heard of Campylobacter, only 31 percent of them know that poultry is the main source of the bacteria.