Food Safety Week 2014

Posted on: 5 June 2014

Food Safety Week 2014
Don’t Wash Raw Chicken’

Do you remember the London 2012 opening ceremony and the Olympic stadium filled to bursting point with spectators? Now, try to envisage that huge crowd multiplied by three. That’s about a quarter of a million people. That’s how many people in the UK could be struck down by campylobacter this year.

The fight against Campylobacter will be at the centre of this year’s Food Safety Week (16-22 June).

Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. You can’t see it, smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it. At its worst, it can kill you.

The FSA is spearheading a campaign to bring together the whole food chain to tackle the problem. Farmers and producers will be asked to work harder to reduce the amount of bacteria on their raw poultry. Consumers will be able see the latest data and be the judges of any progress, or lack of progress, that they make.

Local authorities, all the major supermarkets and key partners will be working together to make sure people know how to stay safe. Advice is available at

www.food.gov.uk/chicken.

Bob Martin, Head of Foodborne Disease Strategy at the Food Standards Agency said:

‘This is a serious problem and we are calling on the whole industry to do act together to tackle Campylobacter. People in Mid Devon can do their part by handling and preparing chicken with extra care – don’t wash raw chicken, cook it properly and enjoy it safely.’

Paul N Wlliams, Head of Environmental Services at Mid Devon District Council said:

‘It’s important that we do our part to make sure that people know to handle and cook food safely for themselves and for their families. We’re proud to be keeping people in Mid Devon safe and well by being part of this campaign to spread the word – and not the germs.’

 NOTES FOR EDITORS:

  • Campylobacter poisoning usually develops a few days after consuming contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting. It can last for between 2 and 10 days and can be particularly severe in small children and the elderly. In some cases, it can affect you forever – sparking off irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reactive arthritis and in rare cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome – a serious and sometimes permanent condition of the nervous system.
  •  About four in five cases of campylobacter poisoning in the UK come from contaminated poultry. One of the main ways to get and spread campylobacter poisoning is through touching raw chicken. FSA advice is not to wash raw chicken. Germs can be spread to kitchen surfaces, clothing and utensils.
  • On a quarterly basis over the next year, the FSA will release the results of tests carried out on about 1,000 samples of chicken being sold by UK retailers. The information published for each sample will include details about where the chicken was bought, the abattoir that processed it, whether or not the sample contained campylobacter and if so, how heavily it was contaminated.
  • Everyone is working hard to solve this:
  • UK Government to lobby in the EU for better hygiene controls and to hold industry to account
  • farmers and producers to reduce the number of flocks of broilers (chickens grown for meat) that contain campylobacter when they are presented for slaughter
  • slaughterhouses and processors to make sure that the processes they use keep levels of contamination in the birds they produce to a minimum
  • caterers to make sure that they and their staff are aware of the risks from raw poultry and work harder to avoid cross-contamination during handling or from under-cooking
  • local government partners to help raise awareness of Campylobacter and ensure that food businesses using chilled poultry meat are aware of the risks and keeping to the highest standards of hygiene
  • retailers and supermarkets to play their role by advising their customers not to wash raw chicken and to cook it thoroughly
  • consumers to reflect on whether the way that they handle food in their homes risks food poisoning for themselves and their families.

For more information see

www.food.gov.uk/actnow

For advice on handling poultry safely see

www.food.gov.uk/chicken

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