The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is on a mission to fight Campylobacter--an infectious disease typically caused by eating raw or undercooked poultry.

As part of the agency’s “2015 Chicken Challenge”, the FSA is asking people to, “Spread the word, not the germs,” which they believe will help to lower the number of Campylobacter cases by 50 percent by year's end. The campaign coincides with the UK’s observance of Food Safety Week beginning May 18.

According to research commissioned by the FSA, Campylobacter is to blame for more foodborne outbreaks in the UK than both Salmonella and Escherichia coli combined.

  • Campylobacter - 280,000 illnesses/year
  • Salmonella - 33,600 illnesses/year
  • E. coli - 9,500 illnesses/year

The Campylobacter arm of the “Chicken Challenge” aims to educate consumers on a few imperative tips for properly cooking poultry:

Cover and Chill Raw Chicken
Cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria.

Don't Wash Raw Chicken
Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present, including Campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs around the kitchen by splashing.

Wash Hands and Used Utensils
Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken.

Cook Chicken Thoroughly
Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that while Campylobacter is characterized by such symptoms as diarrhea and abdominal pain within a few days after exposure, some infected persons show no signs of illness. Each year, an estimated 76 people die from Campylobacter.