Don’t Wash Raw Chicken

dont wash raw chicken iconTitle: "Don’t Wash Raw Chicken"
Audience: All adults on the island of Ireland
Channels: Outdoor, digital, social
Launch date: 03 November, 2014


The aim of this integrated poster and digital campaign is to educate consumers to stop washing raw chicken and poultry and to illustrate how far germs that cause food poisoning can spread in the home kitchen.

The audience for the campaign is all those who prepare food in the home, especially those who shop and cook and those who prepare food for their young children or older relatives.

Consumers’ behaviour

To better understand consumers’ behaviour, we asked them to tell us about how they prepare food and in particular, chicken. We did this as part of our annual consumer tracking survey, safetrak and in a series of focus groups. What they told us helped shape the campaign:

  • 44% of adults surveyed reported always washing chicken under the tap
  • 2 in 3 adults admit to washing chicken “at least some of the time”
  • 60% of consumers wash chicken pieces like breast/drumstick/fillets/wings
  • Consumers’ behaviour has either been learned from family or has developed as a habit

About the campaign

The campaign uses a clear call-to-action in a compelling way and is backed up by credible facts from a trusted, authoritable source. The campaign also reminds people about the "splashzone" and the typical household items that are potentially within that. Using a hashtag for the campaign also helps with amplifying our messages through social media.

The science behind the campaign

Campylobacter (cam-pie-low-back-ter) is the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning on the island of Ireland. In 2012, there were in excess of 3,500 reported cases though the true figure may be considerably higher as this number is only for reported cases. Of those cases, the highest rate reported was in the 0-4 age group. By way of comparison, only 455 cases of Salmonella were reported during the same period.

Those most at risk from bacterial food poisoning are the very young, the elderly, those with an existing medical condition and pregnant women. Preparing food safely in the home is critical in stopping Campylobacter infections and raw chicken is the primary vehicle for infections. This can be as a result of either poor handling or storage of raw chicken, washing raw chicken which leads to cross contamination of work surfaces and utensils, or insufficient cooking of raw chicken.

A study by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that washing chicken can splash bacteria as far as 80cm, or an arm’s length from the sink. Given that most food preparers handle and consume chicken frequently and without negative issues, this has reassured them that their preparation steps are sound.

What we did

  • Advertise our key message about not washing chicken at Point of Purchase, on 450 billboard posters near supermarkets and on 7,500 shopping trolley handles – North and South
  • Advertise online on news, food and recipe websites e.g. RTE Food,, DailyMail, YouTube, assorted online recipe websites and on parenting sites
  • Create web-based vox pop videos featuring on-street interviews with the public about kitchen habits
  • Use our own social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to inform, educate and engage - almost 2,500 people took part in an online, pre-campaign survey
  • Contact a range of food bloggers on the island to advise them of the campaign and encourage them to share it with their audiences
  • Direct consumers to for more information including Vox pop videos and an interview with Dr Linda Gordon
  • Promoting a Twitter hashtag #splashzone to emphasize what happens when you wash chicken at home
  • Branding our chicken recipes with a "Don’t Wash" badge to reinforce the key message
  • In Northern Ireland, partnered with the Food Standards Agency for the campaign

Vox pops