Campylobacter in chicken

Protecting Your Customers from Campylobacter

Protecting Your Customers from Campylobacter

Food poisoning is a major cause of concern in the UK.  When bacteria, viruses or parasites are present in food, they cause diarrhoea, vomiting and other serious illnesses that can sometimes turn out to be fatal.  Currently the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK is that of Campylobacter; and is therefore a very real cause for concern. It’s currently estimated that Campylobacter causes around 100 fatalities each year and is believed to cost the UK economy a whopping £900 Million! The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have estimated that around 28,000 people in the UK fell ill to Campylobacter in 2014.

The Campylobacter bacteria is particularly prevalent in raw meat, especially in raw poultry; not surprisingly there have been a number of cases in which poultry farms have been identified as being the source of a food poisoning outbreak. Research shows that almost 65% of chicken sold in UK’s butcheries and supermarkets are contaminated with Campylobacter. This has been such a huge problem that the Food Standards Agency were driven to order new tests to be conducted on UK farms.

Contamination usually occurs when chicken are reared in cramped conditions. Some poultry farmers will do this in order to maximize production, but this intense farming method actually enhances the spread of bacteria from flock to flock. A single infected bird can infect the entire flock, so farmers need to be very diligent and act immediately it is identified.

Whilst the bacteria rarely cause symptoms in animals, it can prove seriously detrimental to human health once consumed; therefore animal health is absolutely foundational to food safety in humans.

There are some measures that can be taken to make chicken less vulnerable to Campylobacter. However, most farmers are unable to conduct a thorough enough cleaning programme because of the associated costs which would inevitably have to be passed on to an increasingly price sensitive consumer, who has become used to cheap chicken.

Who is at risk of Campylobacter? Put simply; all of your customers are! But especially those whose immune systems are weaker, or impaired. These include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, those who are convalescing after an illness.

In the Kitchen: Practical ways to protect your customers from Campylobacter.

One really important control measure is to be sure only to purchase poultry from reputable and approved suppliers. Once Poultry has been delivered, ensure that it is stored correctly; covered and placed in a deep container in the bottom of the refrigerator. By doing this, you will significantly reduce the risk of blood or juices dripping onto high-risk, ready-to-eat foods. However, it is best practice to have a separate fridge solely for the storage of raw meat and poultry. The same levels of segregation apply to frozen poultry.

Prior to cooking, it’s vital that poultry is not washed – as this can spread the bacteria around the kitchen by splashing! When dealing with frozen poultry, always plan ahead, and ensure that it is fully defrosted before cooking. When defrosting poultry, or any raw meat for that matter, it’s always best to thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours before it’s required.

During preparation, it’s essential that you thoroughly clean and disinfect all work surfaces, chopping boards and utensils ‘as you go’. Cleaning is absolutely fundamental to food safety, as is frequent and effective hand washing, but especially after handling raw poultry.

Most of the bacteria present in raw foods, can be eliminated by thorough and effective cooking, the same applies to Campylobacter. Making sure that chicken and other poultry is properly cooked before consumption will help to eliminate Campylobacter in raw meat.

how to barbeque safely

Seven Steps to a Successful Barbecue

How To Have A Successful Barbecue5535263327_90c48b90c6_o

Summer is upon us once again, and with it comes the prospect of family fun and social gatherings around the barbecue; there’s something very special about long lazy summer days and the smoky flavour of barbecued meat eaten in the company of friends.

Whilst barbeque parties are great social occasions, don’t ruin them by giving your guests food poisoning! In the UK, cases of food poisoning rise significantly over the summer months; many of which can be directly attributed to poor food safety practices on the BBQ.

Far too many happy gatherings are spoilt by the unpleasant consequences of food that has been stored at the wrong temperature, handled by people with unwashed hands, and not cooked sufficiently long enough, at a high enough temperate, to eliminate potentially hazardous bacteria. Often the person responsible for cooking at a BBQ has never received any training in food safety; therefore the potential for a serious food poisoning incident to occur is very high.

We recommend you strictly observe the following 7 points if you want to keep your guests safe and happy and yourself stress-free, when you host your next BBQ.

  1. Plan ahead – make sure the BBQ, which has probably not been used for several months, is given a through clean and safety check. Light the BBQ well in advance of the time you will begin cooking. Charcoal should be glowing hot – it can take about an hour from the time of lighting the fire to reach ideal cooking temperature.
  2.  Don’t wash raw meat – all this does is splash bacteria around the sink, taps and work surfaces that need to be kept completely free from contamination.
  3.  Store raw meat covered, in appropriate containers at the bottom of the fridge until needed for cooking.
  4.  Pre-cook the meat in your kitchen oven before finishing off on the BBQ.
  5.  Food waiting to be cooked should be stored in a cool box with a lid to prevent contamination by insects or pets.
  6.  Keep cooked and raw foods separate, and always use separate tongs and utensils to prevent cross contamination.
  7.  Wash hands thoroughly between tasks, but especially after handling raw meat. Keep your food preparation area scrupulously clean and free from discarded food at all times. Keep children well away from the BBQ, as well as those adults not involved with the cooking.

Happy barbecuing!

Learn how to safely prepare, cook, and serve food this summer with a CaterSafe online course:

Seven Common Reasons for a Low Food Hygiene Rating!

Seven Common Reasons for a Low Food Hygiene Rating!

hygiene ratingFollowing on from my comments on BBC West Midlands in November and my radio interview with BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on the 17th June 2015; I thought it would be a good idea to remind people of the most common reasons why food businesses fail to achieve a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ food hygiene rating. I was invited onto the breakfast show to give some insight into why a wide range of eateries in the Coventry and Warwickshire area, have only attained a food hygiene rating of “1” from the Local Authority – with some premises awarded “0” out of a possible “5”.

Every food business, whether it be a large supermarket, a branded restaurant chain or a small proprietor run café, have the potential to be awarded the Food Standards Agency maximum food hygiene rating of 5 (very good). The maximum rating demonstrates to your customers that you not only value their custom, but you’re working hard to ensure the highest possible standards of food safety and that food purchased from your premises won’t make them unwell.

The food safety officer inspecting a business will work out and award an overall Food Hygiene Rating based across three different areas, which are:


  1. How hygienically the food is handled – how food is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored.


  1. The condition, layout and structure of the building- including the cleanliness, lighting, ventilation as well as other facilities and amenities.


  1. Confidence in management – how effectively the business manages food safety.

Unfortunately, although many businesses have the potential to be awarded a very good rating, they don’t actually achieve it because of a failure to develop, implement, and adhere to some very straightforward procedures. Based on our experience, these are the seven most common reasons why businesses fail to achieve a very good food hygiene rating:


  1. No documented food safety management system in place. (Whilst the premises may not be dirty, there’s no documented evidence that food safety is being taken seriously. Remember: If it’s not written down, there’s no proof!)


  1. Failure to actively and diligently manage an existing food safety system. (Documentation and monitoring records such as fridge/freezer temperatures etc. must be filled in regularly and in a timely manner. Depending on the type of business, this will require records to be completed several times each day.)


  1. Lack of knowledge. (A failure to keep abreast of current legislation may result in a food safety management system that is no longer “fit for purpose”.)


  1. Business operators viewing food safety as an ‘optional extra’. (During the course of a busy and pressurised day, when customer numbers are high, there may be a temptation to serve food quickly rather than safely.)


  1. Lack of staff training. (Many food service businesses employ additional staff during the summer but fail to provide them with adequate training. Some small business operators working on narrow margins are often tempted to view training for casual or seasonal staff as a waste of money.)


  1. Poor hygiene habits of food handlers. (Even where food safety training has been delivered, management may fail to ensure staff actually adhere to it!)


  1. Poor cleaning practices due to poor structure and layout of the premises. (Food businesses by law should have adequate lighting, ventilation, drainage and a dependable supply of hot and cold potable water, with separate sinks for hand washing and food preparation. Poorly laid out or difficult to access areas, such as behind ovens and freezers, may result in staff failing to clean effectively, which can result in a build-up of dangerous levels of bacteria and an infestation of pests.)


If you would like help implementing a food safety management system for your business, or help in achieving the Food Standards Agency maximum food hygiene rating, contact Sam Turner at CaterSafe Consultants:



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