New safefood campaign calls on consumers to make a clean break in the kitchen

07 November, 2011. safefood today launched a new awareness campaign to highlight how germs that cause food poisoning can easily spread in the kitchen as research1 reveals 43% of kitchens were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation. Results from a second study² from safefood also showed that raw meat bacteria can last at least 24 hours on kitchen surfaces. The campaign shows how unseen germs can spread throughout the kitchen and how careless everyday kitchen habits can cause food poisoning.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood said “This campaign uses a novel approach to show the unseen germs that cause food poisoning and how easily they can spread throughout the kitchen and impact other members of the family. By highlighting the trail of these germs around the kitchen and describing their journey, the campaign reveals the dangers to consumers of not following simple food hygiene practises and the risks this can pose to themselves and others. Consumers can help prevent the spread of these germs by making a clean break when preparing raw meat and poultry in their kitchen.” 

Campylobacter is the most common form of bacterial food poisoning on the island of Ireland and of the 1,662 reported cases³ notified in the Republic of Ireland in 2010, 25% were among those aged 4 years and younger. However the actual number of cases may be far higher as many cases go unreported. Those most susceptible to food poisoning are the young, the elderly and persons with an underlying medical condition.

Dr. Gary Kearney, Director, Food Science, safefood added “Food poisoning in the home can happen very easily but is also easily avoided. Every year, thousands of people suffer from food poisoning yet these only represent a fraction of the cases that occur but are not reported.

When preparing and cooking food in their kitchens, consumers can protect themselves and their families by ‘cleaning as you go’ especially when handling raw meat, poultry and raw vegetables.

Food preparation areas, chopping boards, utensils and particularly hands should be thoroughly washed with warm soapy water after preparing raw food, and before reuse with ready to eat foods. By following this advice, consumers can protect themselves by reducing the spread of unseen germs in the kitchen.”

A study¹ by safefood of the kitchen food hygiene practises of 120 participants preparing two meals revealed poor food hygiene behaviours; over half (54%) of participants did not thoroughly wash chopping boards after using them to prepare raw meat and half (50%) of chopping boards were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation. Almost a third (32%) of participant’s hands were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation and over two thirds (72%) of participants did not properly wash a knife used on raw poultry before using it to cut salad vegetables.

The two year campaign from safefood uses the concept of ultra-violet light to reveal the unseen world of germs and how easily they can spread around the kitchen, cross-contaminating other work surfaces, utensils, and ready to eat foods in the process. The advertising comprises a 40 second live action television advertisement, 30 second radio advertisement and outdoor posters. The campaign will also be supported by online activity at www.safefood.eu where consumers can take a food safety quiz and on safefood’s Facebook page.

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For further information please contact:

Ciara Kennedy/Orla Dormer
WHPR
Telephone: 01 669 0030

Dermot Moriarty
safefood
Mob: 086 381 1034

References

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

² “Persistence and dissemination of Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter in domestic kitchen environments.” 2010 (Prof David McDowell)

³ ROI - Provisional data from Health Protection Surveillance Centre quarterly reports (2010)
NI – Provisional data from the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland (2010)

Number of cases of Campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli O157 and Listeria.
 

Year
 
Campylobacter
Salmonella
E.coli O157
Listeria
2010*
ROI
1662
356
117
10
 
NI
1040
181
60
2
2009
ROI
1808
333
241
10
 
NI
986
159
48
4
2008
ROI
1758
450
226
13
 
NI
848
186
56
11

*Provisional data.

ROI data for 2008 and 2009 taken from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reports for those years. NI data for 2008 and 2009 taken from the UK Zoonoses Report 2009, produced by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The TV advertisement was originally developed by the UK Food Standards Agency in 2003 and has been re-branded and re-voiced for the island of Ireland.

Key Findings and methodology from safefood research1

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

This study recorded the food hygiene practices of 120 participants when preparing two meals – a homemade beef burger and a warm chicken salad 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 various surfaces were tested as well as samples of the salad and cooked meat for raw meat bacteria. Throughout the session, the participant’s food handling practices were observed via web-cams.

In the domestic kitchen study, 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 dangerous bacteria.

Utensils
• 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
• 37% of the side salads served with the beef burger were contaminated with raw meat bacteria

Hands
• 84% of people did not thoroughly wash their hands after handling raw chicken
• 32% of participants’ hands were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation

Chopping boards
• 54% of people did not thoroughly wash the chopping board after using it to prepare raw meat.
• 50% of chopping boards were contaminated with raw meat bacteria.

Kitchen worktops
• 96% of kitchen surfaces were not thoroughly washed after food preparation.
• 43% of kitchens were contaminated with raw meat bacteria after food preparation.