In the United States, an estimated 47.8 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year. Raw poultry is the most common single commodity food associated with foodborne illness. The practice of washing raw poultry is highly prevalent among consumers despite the significant cross-contamination risk. Previous educational campaigns have attempted to reduce the prevalence of washing raw poultry; however, limited information is available on how successful these campaigns have been for changing consumer behavior. An online survey was administered to 1,822 consumers in the United States via SurveyMonkey to determine whether consumers washed raw poultry and whether they were aware of the correct behavior to not wash raw poultry. Consumers who indicated that they were not aware of the correct behavior were presented with the U.S. Department of Agriculture educational message online and then asked how confident they were that they could stop washing raw poultry. The survey also included questions to identify barriers that prevented consumers who were aware of the correct behavior from not washing raw poultry. Results indicate that 73.5% (n = 1,340) of consumers reported washing raw poultry. Of those consumers, 68.1% (n = 913) indicated that they were not aware that the practice is incorrect. When these consumers were presented with the educational message, 81.9% (n = 748) indicated that they were somewhat to very confident that they could stop washing raw poultry. Of the consumers who were aware of the correct behavior but continued to wash raw poultry, 58.4% (n = 244) reported that they continued to do so because they thought they cleaned surfaces well afterward and did not believe that their washing raw poultry was a risk for cross-contamination. Data indicate that a large percentage of consumers are still not aware of the correct behavior to not wash raw poultry and a large subset of that group may easily adopt the practice if made aware of the correct behavior.
Seventy-three percent of respondents reported washing raw poultry.
Of the respondents who washed poultry, 69% were not aware the practice is not correct.
Consumers may easily stop washing raw poultry if made aware of the correct behavior.
Thirty-one percent of respondents were aware of the correct behavior but did not use it.