Public Health England Letter about Daffodils
I’ve just been on BBC Radio 5 Live to comment on the story about daffodils that’s hit the headlines this morning. A letter sent by Public Health England has asked retailers to keep daffodils separate to fruit and vegetables because there are rare instances of people mistaking them for food. They are poisonous and could potentially cause nausea, vomiting, rashes and even death. However, there have been 63 enquiries in the last 6 years, so it is hardly as significant as something like Campylobacter which poisons over 250,000 people per year and causes around 100 deaths – just in England and Wales. This organism is found on 70% of chickens, according to the Food Standards Agency, and was identified on 6% of chicken packaging.
It made me think that it was a shame that the media has picked up on daffodils with such excitement, but the chicken story appears to be much less newsworthy.
In two weeks’ time I am presenting a paper to an Institute of Food Science and Technology meeting about the role of the media in food safety – what a great case study this is! I am sure PHE had no idea that their original, polite letter to supermarkets would have had such an impact. As a marketing campaign, it has been brilliant, as now everyone knows about daffodils, but perhaps next we can get on to chicken….