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Pink Chicken Food Safety Campaign

Food poisoning can wreck your summer barbecue. Keep pink chicken – and nasty food bugs – off the menu.


Size matters. So does your cut of chicken and if it has any bones or not.

  1. Chicken with bones, like thighs and drumsticks, take longer to cook. Patience will be rewarded.
  2. The bigger the piece of chicken, the more time it needs.
  3. Cook clever. Put the larger pieces on to cook first and keep an eye on their progress.
Take the quiz

Take the quiz

Reduce the risk of giving you or your family food poisoning. Find out if you’re committing ‘kitchen crimes’ with our interactive quiz.

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Life stages

A healthy diet is important at every stage of your life.

Top Tip

Oven cook chicken first, then pop on the barbecue to be sure it’s cooked through. It’ll taste just as good.

Check chicken is steaming hot right through before dishing up.

  1. Looks can deceive. Charred chicken on the outside may still be pink inside. Check it’s cooked right through.
  2. Turning chicken regularly helps it cook evenly. And you’ll impress your guests with your fancy tongs action.
  3. You’re good to go when the chicken is steaming hot in the middle, there’s no pink chicken to be seen and the juices run clear.

Top Tip

To make sure, use a meat thermometer. Chicken should be a minimum of 75 °C in the centre.

Easy tiger. Wait for the flames to die down and charcoal barbecue coals to glow red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking.

  • Why? Because red hot coals mean the heat gets right into the chicken and doesn’t just char the surface.
  • Keep turning the chicken and move it around on the BBQ to make sure it’s cooked evenly – some parts of the BBQ might be hotter than others.

Top Tip

Got a disposable barbecue? The meat often sits close to the flames, so it can look cooked but inside may still be harbouring harmful bugs.

Food prep

Nasty bugs in raw chicken, like Campylobacter, can cause food poisoning.

  • Raid the kitchen for separate tongs, utensils and plates to use for raw and for cooked chicken.
  • Don’t lift cooked chicken from the barbecue using the same tongs you used for moving raw chicken.

Bugs hate soap.

  • So wash hands, utensils and chopping boards regularly in hot, soapy water, particularly after contact with raw chicken.


Top Tip

Wash tools and equipment straight after you use them, so they can’t be accidentally re-used.


  • Campylobacter is a bug commonly found in chicken – cooking kills it off. Anything ready to eat, like salad, will be much safer without the added bacteria. So keep it well away from raw chicken.

Top Tip

Prepare salads before you touch raw chicken. Keep uncooked and ready-to-eat foods in separate, sealed containers and keep cold until required.

Don’t let the food bugs bite

  • At least 6000 people in Scotland suffer Campylobacter poisoning every year. Some reckon the number could be 9 times that. It’s the most common cause of food poisoning.
  • It can be serious. Yet food poisoning isn’t regarded as a worry for three quarters of people in Scotland.     
  • Campylobacter poisoning can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. Some may vomit or experience nausea. It can result in serious illnesses, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and reactive arthritis. In rare cases it can lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious condition of the nervous system. At its worst, campylobacter can kill.
  • Don’t let pink chicken spoil your summer. Prepare and cook chicken properly.

More on this topic

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Food Safety

At Food Standards Scotland, we play an important role in making sure food and drink is safe to eat.

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