With the 5p bag tax, bags for life are becoming a norm, and it’s great news for the environment. But one problem is that we could be putting our food into dirty bags, not just visibly dirty, but bags with dangerous bacteria on the inside.Read more
Food poisoning often starts with a bad bout of diarrhoea and or vomiting. It is understandable that you might think that the cause of your illness is the first thing you throw up, but in fact that can be far from the truth! In a recent survey carried out by Biomaster, 99% of respondents did not know that it takes a while for Campylobacter to make you ill after infection.Read more
Christmas is coming and the turkey questions keep rolling in! So here are some simple answers and top tips to keep you safe this Christmas. Watch this space – more updates to come!
Q How do I store the raw turkey?
In the fridge – lowest shelf, protected from any foods that are ready to eat.
Q Should I wash raw turkey?
Absolutely not – never!!! If you wash turkey you risk spreading germs all over your kitchen sink, draining board and anything else in the vicinity. Try not to handle it too much either – anywhere it’s been needs disinfecting – use an antibacterial spray such as Dettol. And don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly using soap and dry with a paper towel. I wash my hands twice after handling raw meat and poultry just to be on the safe side.
People often think it is the last thing they ate that caused them to have food poisoning, but rarely consider that it may actually not have been the food they ate, but the food they prepared!
Raw chicken is sadly still highly likely to be contaminated with Campylobacter – the latest FSA study still puts the figures at 59% of raw whole retail chickens being contaminated, and whilst this is an improvement, it means that we need to still think that the chances of having a contaminated chicken at home is high.
There are estimated to be 280,000 cases of Campylobacter every year and on average 110 deaths. The Food Standards Agency reckons that this means that around one third of us in the UK will suffer from the disease at some point in our lives. Four out of five cases are associated with chicken.Read more
Campylobacter is still number one when it comes to bacterial food poisoning in the UK. It is estimated that every year around 280,000 people suffer from this disease, and on average there are 110 deaths – which works out at about one every three days.
Campylobacter is in the news again – what are the key facts?
What is Campylobacter?
Campylobacter is a bacterium that causes very unpleasant illness, which in England and Wales kills around 100 people per year. It is estimated that there may be 460,000 cases per year and 22,000 hospitalisations annually. The illness can linger on for over a week. It causes severe diarrhoea, acute abdominal pain, and can result in complications such as reactive arthritis.
Where does it come from?
In the EU around 50-80% of illness is attributed to poultry. Over 60% of retail poultry has been found to contain Campylobacter in a UK study, but the figure may be much higher in Europe where 75% has been quoted. It is also found on other meats and in the environment – wild birds carry it and leave it in their faeces and in water courses.
How do people get ill at home?
Campylobacter is infectious in very low doses, so you don’t need much to make you ill.
Contamination has been found on meat and poultry packaging, so the risks can start at the supermarkets.
On the way home, the bag can be contaminated (over and over again if a bag for life).
When you get home other opportunities for contamination can be in your fridge (on to ready-to-eat food), on surfaces, utensils and hands. Clean up with a cloth, and it’s on there too!
If you undercook chicken or chicken livers, then you are heading for trouble, as the bacteria could survive.
What can be done to be safe?
Understanding the routes of transmission is the first thing – and you can see that hand washing with soap would be very useful at a number of times:
After doing the shopping
After putting foods away in the fridge
After preparing chicken and meat
You also need to clean up to kill any Campylobacter on surfaces or utensils. Hot soapy water in my opinion is not enough – I am worried that the cloth will get contaminated and then spread the bacteria all round the kitchen!
Here are my recommendations:
Use the dishwasher on a hot wash for utensils
If washing up by hand, put dirty utensils in the sink and (carefully)! pour boiling water over them – could be when draining the peas!
Use an anti-bacterial cleansing spray on the surfaces with disposable paper towels. You don’t need to get through bucket loads of the stuff – a bottle can last a long time if you just use it when you really need to.
If you use a cloth, then you will need to disinfect it after use and then leave it to dry – or if disposable, throw it away.
Cook poultry and poultry products all the way through – 75 °C is recommended and you can only measure that with a clean probe thermometer. These are very cheap – less than £20. Believe me, that is money well spent! You can’t always tell by looking at food colour whether it is cooked enough. And I am not saying that because we are selling them!
So once it’s in the pan – blitz those surfaces, utensils and hands, cook thoroughly and job done!