Chickens are not clean creatures. If you visit a pig farm you'll think it smells pretty bad. If you visit a chicken farm you'll long for the gentle scents of the pig farm. Chickens, in short, stink.
Chickens, like most birds, carry a bacterium called Campylobacter in their guts. It doesn't bother them but it makes us pretty sick. It's in bird crap everywhere and it's in the chickens you buy for roasting.
It doesn't matter. Cook it properly and wash your hands and work surfaces after handling the raw meat, and it's dead. No problem at all. I've never experienced a Campylobacter infection despite eating chicken in many forms and despite working with the actual bacterium and deliberately growing lots of it. It's easy to kill.
Ah, but the sight of government is shorter even than the average IQ of parliament. You buy the chicken from the supermarket, therefore it's the supermarket that has to deal with the problem.
The morons of the FSA cannot grasp that Campylobacter is a natural part of chicken gut microflora and has been for a very, very long time. That's why Granny cooks chicken until the skin shatters when you stick a fork in it. Heat kills it. Ah, but we are all stupid, you see...
The concern is not limited to eating under-cooked chicken. When you bring it into your kitchen, you may be cross-contaminating your hands and transferring campylobacter to salads and fresh produce.'
Well, Granny and her ancestors managed perfectly well, using complex arcane rituals such as cooking it properly, washing their hands and washing down preparation surfaces. If people don't want to bother with all that, well, Darwinian selection beckons and that's natural and for the good of the species. Let the dopes die.
Oh, but how can we rid ourselves of this easily solved problem?
Other countries, notably New Zealand, have reduced campylobacter contamination by disinfecting chicken meat with chlorine washes before it reaches the shops but this method is banned in the EU.
Campylobacter is eradicated by heat. Chlorine is not. I know which I'd rather have on the raw chicken, thanks. Chlorine washes? What the hell?
The British Retail Consortium said: 'This is a complex issue. The biology of campylobacter is not yet fully understood and, so far, there is no proven single solution.'
Sigh. The biology of Campylobacter is understood well enough for now, thanks. We know how it infects, we can grow it, we know how to prevent infection and it's easy. Just cook it like Granny did, and clean like Granny did, and you'll never catch it. People are just too damn lazy and frankly, they deserve all they get.
As for 'single solution', there is no solution at all at present. I heard from a poultry industry guy that the first person to find a way to eradicate Campylobacter from poultry will make enough money to retire a week later.
Am I looking for a way? Damn right I am!
In the meantime, just make extensive use of soap and cook that chicken until it screams for mercy.
Oh, and be wary of any pre-cooked meat. The people preparing it might be lazy too.