Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has reminded people to thoroughly cook chicken and follow good hygiene when handling raw poultry to avoid food poisoning at home and at picnics. The agency made the statement ahead of the summer barbecue season and to mark the first ever World Food Safety Day on June 7.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) intend to make the international day an annual event.
Raw chicken can be contaminated with Campylobacter, which is responsible for an estimated 54,000 cases of illness each year in Scotland. Of the 6,000 reported cases each year around 14 percent require hospital treatment.
Advice on cooking chicken
FSS figures show 14 percent of people in the country would eat chicken that was pink or had red juices, despite this putting them at high risk of food poisoning. An FSS campaign uses a not-so-super villain to get out the word about the dangers of undercooked chicken, which often appears pink.
Dr. Jacqui McElhiney, head of Food Protection Science at FSS, said World Food Safety Day raises awareness on the risks of food poisoning and the ways people can avoid it.
“Our latest research shows that there’s a real need in Scotland for everyone who cooks for themselves and other people to make sure they’re following good food safety practices,” she said.
“Campylobacter is the biggest cause of food poisoning in Scotland and cooking chicken properly is very important to make sure you don’t get this really nasty type of food poisoning. To be totally sure, we’d recommend always checking it’s cooked to 75 degrees C (165 F) by using a food thermometer, as that’s the temperature that’s needed to kill any food poisoning bacteria that may be present.
“Campylobacter can give you much more than an upset stomach. It can be really serious — especially for the very young, older people and people with existing health conditions.”
Most people who get ill from Campylobacter recover and treatment is not usually required for infection. Illness can last around a week and symptoms include diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, abdominal pain, fever and occasionally nausea and vomiting.
The FSS advises people not to wash raw chicken, which can spread Campylobacter by splashing it onto hands, work surfaces, ready-to-eat foods and cooking equipment and to use separate tongs, utensils and plates for raw and cooked chicken, and regularly wash hands.
FSA food alerts
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) chose to focus on the United Kingdom’s food alerts system in conjunction with World Food Safety Day. The agency issued 72 food recalls and 103 allergy alerts in 2018 — almost one every two days.
Dr. Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the FSA, said food alerts tell the public about products that have been removed from sale so they can take action to stay safe.
“We make every effort to publish our alerts as soon as we can and with information that is both useful and clear. Our advice to people is always based on the best science and evidence available.”
Steve Wearne, director of science at the FSA and vice chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, welcomes an international day to promote the prevention, detection and management of foodborne risks.
“Food safety is everyone’s business, whether you produce, process, sell or prepare food, then you have a role in keeping it safe. We are pleased to play our part in making sure people can trust their food, particularly through working with local authorities and food businesses when a recall is required.”
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