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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Food Safety Week 16-22-June 2014

West Lancashire Borough Council is joining forces with the Food Standards Agency to raise awareness of the United Kingdom’s most common cause of food poisoning.

The Food Standards Agency says Campylobacter could strike down 250,000 people across the British Isles in 2014. That is three times the number of people who attended the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

You can’t see campylobacter, you can’t smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it.

Campylobacter poisoning usually develops a few days after consuming contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting. It can last for between 2 and 10 days and can be particularly severe in small children and the elderly.

The fight against campylobacter will be at the centre of this year’s Food Safety Week (16-22 June), which is organised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and supported by West Lancashire Borough Council and local authorities all over the country.

One of the main ways to contract and spread campylobacter poisoning is through contact with raw chicken. The FSA is spearheading a campaign to bring together the whole food chain to tackle the problem. Farmers and producers will be asked to work harder to reduce the amount of bacteria on their raw poultry. West Lancashire Borough Council and other local authorities, all the major supermarkets and key partners will be working together to make sure people know how to stay safe. For more information on handling poultry safely please visit the Food Standards Agency website (external link).

The FSA offers the following advice to help people avoid getting campylobacter:

  • Cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria
  • Don’t wash raw chicken. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present Including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs around the kitchen by splashing them onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment
  • Thoroughly wash all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of campylobacter by avoiding cross contamination.
  • Cook chicken thoroughly. Make sure it is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.

Bob Martin, Head of Foodborne Disease Strategy at the Food Standards Agency said: “This is a serious problem and we are calling on the whole industry to act together to tackle Campylobacter. People in West Lancashire can do their part by handling and preparing chicken with extra care – don’t wash raw chicken, cook it properly and enjoy it safely.”

Dave Tilleray, West Lancashire Borough Council Assistant Director Community Services, said: “It’s important that we do our part to make sure that people know how to handle and cook food safely for themselves and for their families. We are working to keep people in West Lancashire safe and well by being part of this campaign to spread the word – and not the germs.”

For more information on campylobacter please visit the Food Standards Agency website (external link).

For advice on handling chicken safely please visit the Food Standards Agency website (external link).

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