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Chef beware: 90 percent of raw chicken contaminated

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 16/04/2018

Video provided by Wochit News

Researchers have found most people don't realise the high health risk that comes with preparing raw chicken.

A new study from the University of Otago, Wellington, shows consumers are unaware of the level of campylobacter contamination found on fresh chicken.

Up to 90 percent of fresh chicken meat for sale is contaminated with the bacteria, which causes a severe form of gastroenteritis.

It was New Zealand's number one food safety problem, study co-author Professor Michael Baker said.

About 30,000 people were made sick by contaminated chicken a year, with 600 of them going into hospital.

When handling fresh chicken at home, people should wear gloves, avoid rinsing the chicken under a tap, and put the chicken in a hot oven as quickly as possible.

Any surfaces that had been in contact with the chicken should be bleached, Mr Baker said.

There needed to be a requirement for better labelling on chicken, including safety information and the level of contamination.

"This is one of the most preventable diseases in New Zealand, and amongst notifiable diseases it's actually the most common reasons for going into hospital, with 600 people a year ... so why are we not putting the effort into this that we would put into any other notifiable diseases."

Ideally the Ministry of Primary Industries would mandate lower levels of contamination in fresh poultry, lowering the risk.

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