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Squeamish about handling raw chicken? Touch-free packaging is here for you

A British grocery chain is unveiling touch-free chicken packaging in response to younger customers' reluctance to handle raw meat due to salmonella concerns.
/ Source: TODAY

A British grocery chain believes it has found a quick and easy solution for millennial consumers squeamish about touching raw poultry.

Sainsbury's is unveiling touch-free packaging on May 3 in which the chicken can be dropped right into a pan to be cooked without having to be handled.

New touch-free packaging from a British grocery chain aims to prevent having to handle raw chicken before cooking it.
New touch-free packaging from a British grocery chain aims to prevent having to handle raw chicken before cooking it. Getty Images stock

"Customers, particularly younger ones, are quite scared of touching raw meat. These bags allow people, especially those who are time-poor, to just ‘rip and tip’ the meat straight into the frying pan without touching it," Katherine Hall, product development manager for meat, fish and poultry at Sainsbury’s, told The Times of London.

Sainsbury's conducted research into why more consumers under 35 are reluctant to handle raw meat, finding that an increased awareness of bacteria that can cause food poisoning as the primary reason.

"A lot of younger people are eating out in restaurants but they are not preparing as much food in their home,'' Hall said. "If they are not used to it, they may think, ‘Ugh! I’d prefer someone else to do it for me.'''

Despite the findings of millennials' reluctance to handle raw meat, reported cases of food poisoning from salmonella, which can occur through handling raw meat improperly, actually decreased in England and Wales from 2006-15, according to data from the government-run Public Health England.

The new touch-free bags could potentially cut down on the surface-area contamination that can cause food poisoning because the raw meat never comes in contact with a cutting board or plate before being cooked. They could render obsolete the age-old debate on whether or not to rinse your chicken.

The FDA has issued guidelines about safely handling food, including the handling of raw meat, that include:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.
  • Don’t reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first.

There are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually in the United States that lead to about 3,000 deaths, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Salmonella poisoning alone accounts for 1.2 million illnesses in which most people develop diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. An Indiana-based farm recalled more than 200 million eggs last week over fears of Salmonella Braenderup contamination.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.