An estimated 280,000 United Kingdom citizens fell ill with Campylobacter in 2014, according to the country’s Food Standards Agency (FSA). The estimation comes atop growing concerns over the rates of Campylobacter contamination on chicken in the U.K. The challenge of Campylobacter on raw poultry has become so pervasive that FSA is dedicating its annual Food Safety Week (May 18-24) to launching its Chicken Challenge 2015, a social media campaign to raise awareness about the risk of foodborne illness from chicken. According to the agency, 58 percent of confirmed Campylobacter illnesses in the U.K. come from poultry. The agency said it hopes to cut Campylobacter illness incidence in half in 2015 by educating consumers on a few key concepts when cooking poultry:
- Bag and store raw poultry separately from other food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
- Do not wash raw poultry, as it can splash bacteria around the kitchen.
- Wash everything in soap and hot water that touches raw chicken — that means your hands and utensils.
- Check that the poultry is cooked properly — that there’s no pink meat and the juices run clear.
Sales of chicken in the U.K. fell 7 percent by volume in 2014, causing some analysts to correlate the trend with a growing number of Campylobacter illness reports. In response, some retailers in the country have introduced additional measures to reduce the risk of Campylobacter exposure. Campylobacter is a bacteria known as one of the major causes of foodborne illness. Symptoms of infection typically last for one week and include abdominal cramping, fever, and nausea.