Borough Council of Wellingborough

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Food safety week – join the chicken challenge

Published Friday, 15 May 2015

Food safety officers from Wellingborough Council will be out and about next week to help in the fight against the UK’s most common cause of food poisoning from the nation’s favourite food.

Officers will be at Morrisons on Thursday 21 May to offer advice on avoiding campylobacter – a serious infection that’s often traced back to chicken.

Almost three quarters of people eat chicken every single week, but the family favourite can also host a germ that causes food poisoning if proper care isn’t taken.

Next week is food safety week and this year people are being urged to take the ‘chicken challenge’ – pledging to take a few simple steps that can keep their loved ones safe from illness.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) estimates that around 280,000 cases of food poisoning a year can be attributed to campylobacter, and that up to 80% of cases of campylobacter poisoning come from contaminated poultry.

Wellingborough Council’s food safety officers are joining the fight to reduce the number of cases of infection by supporting the FSA campaign and offering advice directly to shoppers.

Amanda Wilcox, the council’s health protection manager, said: "We’re trying to talk to people directly and offer advice that will stop them getting ill.

"Most people haven’t heard of campylobacter, but it’s present on a lot of the uncooked poultry we buy and is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. It can be killed by thorough cooking, so problems only come if the bacteria is spread on to other food or the chicken isn’t cooked properly.

"You can’t see, smell or taste campylobacter, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it. It usually develops a few days after eating contaminated food and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, and can also lead to serious conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and reactive arthritis. At its worst, it can kill. It is most severe in small children and older people.

"We’re going out and about next week to talk to people and offer some simple tips on how to avoid it. We’re also asking people to sign up to the FSA’s chicken challenge and pledge to take some small steps to stay safe."

Nina Purcell, FSA director, said: "It’s clear that we all love chicken, we just need to take the time and be even more committed to ensuring we do the little things in the kitchen to keep our loved ones safe."

The FSA chicken challenge asks people to:

  • Bag and store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Not to wash raw chicken as it splashes germs.
  • Wash everything that’s touched raw chicken – hands and utensils – in soap and hot water.
  • Check chicken is cooked properly – no pink meat, steaming hot and the juices run clear.