New safefood campaign warns consumers of food hygiene dangers in the home

  • 84% of people did not wash hands properly after handling raw chicken
  • 72% did not properly wash knife used in preparing raw chicken before reuse on salad vegetables

July 13, 2009. safefood today launched a new advertising campaign to highlight common and widespread poor food hygiene practices in the home as new research [1] revealed that 84% of people did not thoroughly wash their hands after handling raw chicken. The campaign titled “Don’t Take Risks” focuses on key messages of proper hand washing, proper cleaning of cooking utensils and thorough cooking, steps all of which can help minimise the risks of food poisoning in the home. The research also revealed that 72% failed to properly wash a knife used in preparing raw chicken before its reuse on salad vegetables, and 56% did not check if the chicken was cooked properly.

The safefood study recorded the food hygiene practices of 120 participants across the island of Ireland while they prepared two meals – a homemade beef burger and a warm chicken salad. The research findings revealed poor food hygiene behaviours, with more than a third of what participants considered to be “cooked” beef burgers being contaminated with raw meat bacteria. In addition, more than half of consumers did not thoroughly wash the chopping board used to prepare raw mince before reusing it to prepare salad.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood said “There is clear evidence that consumers are not following basic hygiene rules in the kitchen when they are preparing food, therefore putting loved ones at risk from food poisoning. This campaign is a powerful, visual reminder to consumers of the dangers of poor food safety behaviour, as they may often be unaware of how their day to day food preparation habits can cause themselves and others harm. By following some simple food hygiene practices, consumers can help prevent the spread of food poisoning bacteria around the kitchen”.

The safefood “Don’t Take Risks” campaign reinforces three golden rules: cook chicken and minced meat thoroughly until piping hot all the way through with no pink meat remaining and the juices running clear; always wash hands in warm, soapy water after handling raw meat or chicken; and always wash utensils such as knives and chopping boards thoroughly after use with raw meat and chicken and before reuse with ready to eat foods such as salads.

Dr. Gary Kearney, Director Food Science, safefoodadded “Our research highlighted real food safety issues in the kitchen relating to food preparation and hygiene, which are addressed in a dramatic way in this campaign. safefood commissioned this study to look at the way in which people prepare meals in their homes. This study also highlights inadequate hand washing habits, as one third of participants still had raw meat bacteria contamination on their hands after preparing the meals. We would urge all consumers to consider these significant findings, examine their own food preparation behaviours and to take these easy steps to always prepare food safely”.

“Don’t Take Risks” is a two year campaign and consists of three, 20 second live action television advertisements with the themes of “Knife”, “Hands” and “Flame”. This phase of the campaign comprises two bursts of activity; the first launching on 13th July for three weeks on television and a second burst in September for a further three weeks on television. The campaign will also be supported by online activity at www.safefood.eu and PR and Direct Marketing activity.

For more information on food safety in the home, please contact the safefood helpline on 1850 40 4567 (ROI), 0800 085 1683 (NI) or visit www.safefood.eu.

-ENDS-

For further information please contact

Susie Cunningham / Cliodhna Lamont, WHPR
Telephone: 01 669 0030 / 087 8505055 (Susie) and 087 9250874 (Cliodhna)
Email: susie.cunningham@ogilvy.com and cliodhna.lamont@ogilvy.com

Sarah Young / Sarah Eakin, Smarts
Telephone: 028 9039 5511/ 028 9039 5521
Email: sarah.young@smarts.co.uk / sarah.eakin@smarts.co.uk

Dermot Moriarty, safefood
Telephone: 01 4480600

References

1 “Identification of Critical Control Points during Domestic Food Preparation”, University College Dublin and the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, 2008

Research objectives and methodology

The objective of this study was to gain information on the normal food preparation practices followed by consumers when they are preparing a meal in their own homes.

This study recorded the food hygiene practices of 120 participants when preparing two meals – homemade beef burger and warm chicken salad and according to specified recipes. There were two phases of the study: phase 1 - conducted in test kitchen and phase 2 –conducted in participants’ own homes. Each phase involved 60 participants and there were equal numbers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

In the test kitchen study, participants were asked to prepare the meals as they would normally at home and swabs were taken at various points in the kitchen and samples were taken of the salad and cooked meat. The swabs and samples were analysed for the presence of raw meat bacteria. Throughout the session, the participant’s food handling practices were observed via web-cams.

In the domestic kitchen study, arrangements were made for the researchers to visit at a suitable time for the participants to prepare the required meals. Participants’ food handling practices were observed via web-cams. Swabs were taken from four kitchen areas as well as participants’ hands and from samples of the prepared meals to test for the presence of bacteria.

Main Research Findings & Risk Avoidance Recommendations

  Visual Statistic
1 Knife

Behaviour: 57% of people using a knife to prepare burgers failed to thoroughly wash the knife before reusing it to cut raw salad vegetables. 72% failed to thoroughly wash the knife used in preparing raw chicken before its reuse on salad vegetables.

Contamination: 37% of the side salads served with the beef burger were contaminated with raw meat bacteria.

How to avoid risk: All knives should be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher, particularly after using them to cut raw meat.

2 Hand

Behaviour: 84% of people did not thoroughly wash their hands after handling the raw chicken.

Contamination: 32% of participant’s hands were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation.

How to avoid risk: Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat or chicken. Wet your hands thoroughly under warm running water and apply soap to them. Rub your hands together to make a lather and spread it over all areas of your hands and wrists, making sure it covers palms, backs, wrists, fingernails and fingers, and rubbing between each finger and round your thumbs. It’s this action which helps the soap dislodge and remove dirt and germs. Rinse the soap off completely under a stream of clean running water. Dry your hands thoroughly, using a clean hand towel or hand dryer, not a tea towel or your clothes.

3 Burger in a bun

Behaviour: 30% of ‘cooked’ beef burgers were still pink in the middle.

Contamination: 37% of ‘cooked’ burgers contained raw meat bacteria.

How to avoid risk: You can’t rely on the colour of the outside of a burger to make sure that it is thoroughly cooked. Make sure it is cooked properly by taking it off the heat and placing it on a clean plate and cutting it open with a clean knife and fork to see that it’s piping hot all the way through, the juices run clear and until there is no pink meat left.

4 Chicken salad

Contamination: 22% of chicken salad contained raw meat bacteria.

How to avoid risk: Always keep ready to eat salad separate from raw meat bacteria by preparing it on clean surfaces with clean hands and utensils.

5 Chopping board

Behaviour: 54% of people did not thoroughly wash the chopping board after using it to prepare raw meat.

Contamination: 50% of chopping boards were contaminated with raw meat bacteria.

How to avoid risk: Always wash your chopping board with hot soapy water after each use and be sure to scrub off any food or dirt particles. This is especially important if you have used the board to cut meat, poultry, seafood or raw vegetables. The high temperature of the dishwasher is a very effective way to wash plastic chopping boards but a good scrub in the sink with hot soapy water is also effective.

6 Worktop

Behaviour: 96% of kitchen surfaces were not thoroughly washed after food preparation.

Contamination: 43% of worktops were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation.

How to avoid risk: Always wash worktops with hot soapy water after each use especially if you have prepared raw meat, poultry, seafood or raw vegetables on the worktop.