Eight out of 10 meat eaters could be risking food poisoning by unnecessarily washing chicken under the tap as part of the cooking process.
Most people prepare chicken incorrectly
Rinsing may seem like a sensible and hygienic thing to do, but the Food and Drink Federation warn it could spread bacteria to nearby surfaces and foods.
But an FDF survey found some food hygiene messages are getting through.
Ninety per cent said they always washed their hands after touching raw meats and before handling salads.
This figure is up from seven out of 10 people in 1996.
The survey - of 1,000 people in February and March this year across Britain - was launched to mark National Food Safety Week.
Over half knew separate boards should be used to chop raw meat and vegetables.
It also found 54% knew that it is important to store raw meat on the bottom shelf to avoid the juices dripping onto other foods, up from 41% in 1996.
Spreading germs 'easy'
Food safety experts say that rinsing poultry is unnecessary because the cooking process kills food poisoning bacteria.
Rinsing the bird under the tap actually "splashes" any bacteria on the bird onto nearby taps, kitchen surfaces and foods.
Martin Paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "Spreading germs when preparing food is easily done; but also easily prevented.
"Our survey shows that some messages are hitting home but there is still much to be done.
"Often we think we're doing the right thing by wiping or rinsing away germs, but more often than not, this isn't doing the job, and we could be unwittingly putting ourselves at risk of food poisoning."
The Food Standards Agency, which is currently running a TV advertising campaign highlighting the importance of kitchen hygiene, echoed the FDF's advice.
It warns: "Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have touched raw chicken or meat and before you touch anything else.
"Wash chopping boards and knives that have been used with raw chicken or meat before you use them with other foods.
"Never let raw chicken or meat touch other food, store raw chicken and meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it can't touch or drip onto other foods and don't put raw chicken or meat next to cooked food on the grill or barbecue."