Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council are backing an awareness campaign designed to reduce the number of people becoming ill with campylobacter food poisoning.
Chicken is a healthy and versatile food, it brings us all together around the table for Sunday lunch and around the barbecue on sunny afternoons.
We are a society of chicken eaters, in a recent Food Standards Agency (FSA) poll almost three quarters (73%) of us eat chicken every week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. And, nearly three quarters (72%) of 16-24 year olds and of all those aged over 25 (52%) agreed that chicken was their favourite meat.
But there's just one thing we don't love about it. Chicken can cause food poisoning. The FSA estimate that about 280,000 cases of food poisoning a year can be traced to Campylobacter - a germ found mostly on raw chicken. You can’t see it, smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it. At its worst, campylobacter can kill or paralyse you.
Campylobacter food poisoning usually develops a few days after eating contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting.
Some can have lasting effects for example irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and, in rare cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome – a serious condition of the nervous system.
The FSA wants to cut the number of cases of campylobacter poisoning in half by the end of 2015. It could mean that over a hundred thousand fewer people would get sick next year. If everyone does their bit including industry and consumers this can happen. Pledging to take the Chicken Challenge and to do at least one thing to help keep our tummies safe and healthy will make a huge difference in helping to achieve this goal.
‘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.’ Said Nina Purcell, FSA Director
Tom Wright, Business Regulation and Licensing Manager, Environmental Health, Planning and Growth, for Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “Campylobacter makes you feel really rotten and is easy to catch. I really would like to see a reduction in the estimated 280,000 case a year in the UK. You can achieve this, for both you and your loved ones for free, by following the hygiene advice from the Food Standards Agency.”
The FSA is asking you to step up to the plate and promise 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 in soap and hot water – your hands and utensils
Check chicken is cooked properly - no pink meat, steaming hot and the juices run clear
To take the pledge and the chance to win some amazing prizes visit www.food.gov.uk/chickenchallenge
What is campylobacter?
Campylobacter is the generic name for a number of species of bacteria that can cause food poisoning in people. They cause more cases of food poisoning in the UK than salmonella, E. coli and listeria combined.
Campylobacter bacteria are commonly found on poultry meat. Between 50% and 80% of cases of campylobacter food poisoning in the UK and other EU countries can be attributed to poultry sources, mostly to raw poultry meat.
Why it’s important?
50% to 80% of confirmed cases of campylobacter poisoning in the UK come from contaminated poultry. Campylobacter poisoning can lead to sickness including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, disability and even worse. Those most at risk are children and older people.
If you want your chicken meals to be remembered for the right reasons, follow the FSA’s advice on the recommended safe practices when preparing, cooking and storing chicken.
Find out more about the FSA’s Chicken Challenge at www.food.gov.uk/chickenchallenge