According to new data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), one-third of the U.K. population could contract food poisoning from Campylobacter over the course of their lifetime. FSA released the figure — based on the current infection rates of approximately 280,000 people per year — to kick off its 2015 Food Safety Week and the launch of the Chicken Challenge. Campylobacter is most frequently found on raw poultry and is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the U.K. Research has shown that reducing the numbers of the most highly contaminated birds would reduce the public health risk by about half. The Chicken Challenge directs the entire food chain from industry to consumer to “do their bit to halve the number of campylobacter food poisoning cases by the end of 2015.” Consumers should take the following steps to protect themselves and their families:
- Store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
- Don’t wash raw chicken (it splashes pathogens around).
- Wash everything that’s touched raw chicken in soap and hot water, including hands and utensils.
- Make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked.
FSA is currently conducting a year-long survey of the levels of Campylobacter on fresh whole chilled retail chickens and the packaging. Editor’s Note: FSA advised consumers to “check chicken is cooked properly until it’s steaming hot throughout with no pink meat and the juices run clear,” but visual indicators such as color, firmness, clear juices or shrinkage are not accurate indicators of doneness. Cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F (or 74 degrees C).