Don’t Wash Your Chicken: What’s the Cluck?

The "Germ Vision" graphic from the "Don't Wash Your Chicken" campaign illustrates how bacteria can splatter when raw poultry is washed.
The “Germ Vision” graphic from the “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” campaign illustrates how bacteria can splatter when raw poultry is washed.

The “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” food safety campaign developed by Drexel researchers in collaboration with New Mexico State University has made a big splash in the news over the past week or so – and people keep talking about it.

(If you missed the story, check out our press release here, or see these stories from NPR and Prevention.)

Lots of questions about the advice have come up again and again in discussions both online and offline. And a lot of people insist they’re not going to stop washing chicken.

So let’s continue that conversation:

Have a chicken-washing question or objection you haven’t seen answered? Head over to the BarfBlog, where food safety experts, including blog author and North Carolina State University assistant professor Dr. Ben Chapman, are at the ready to answer your questions in the comments section.

Wonder why the “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” campaign says what it does in the way that it does? Dr. Suruchi Sood, an associate professor in Drexel’s School of Public Health, who was not involved in the campaign, weighed in on why health communication campaigns like this are done, and what helps them be most effective:

There is considerable evidence both in the US and from across the globe that health communication campaigns are an effective way to promote both behavior and social change across large populations. This is true in relation to reduction in health risk behaviors (for example: tobacco, alcohol and drug use) and also promotion of positive behaviors and norms (use of seat belts and child survival).

Well-designed health communication, while raising awareness about current practices, should also, through role models, demonstrate the right behavior and provide a clear call to action. From a health communication perspective – this [“Don’t Wash Your Chicken”] campaign is very well designed and appears to be doing everything right – their messaging is based on thorough research, they demonstrate through verbal and graphic means how washing raw poultry is harmful and end with a simple yet clear call to action “Don’t wash your chicken.”

Maybe not so scientific, but I think another sign that the health communication works is when it inspires jokes by celebrity chefs on social media. Alton Brown concludes, after cleaning a chicken and burning the house down to kill germs: “Nuke the entire site from orbit. #itstheonlywaytobesure.”