Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 14.15.32A CHICKEN challenge has been laid down in a bid to half the number of cases of a common – and potentially fatal – type of food poisoning.

As part of Food Safety Week (May 18-25) Middlesbrough Council’s Public Protection Service is joining forces with local food businesses to spread the word to help people avoid suffering campylobacter food poisoning.

In a recent Food Standards Agency (FSA) poll almost three quarters of us eat chicken every week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And nearly three quarters of 16-24 year olds and of all those aged over 25 agreed that chicken was their favourite meal.

However, the FSA estimate that about 280,000 cases of food poisoning a year can be traced to campylobacter – a food poisoning bacteria found mostly on raw chicken.

Environmental Health Manager Judith Hedgley said: “The effects of food poisoning can be devastating.

“We want to remind the public of the health risks associated with handling raw poultry. There are some very simple steps that can be taken when preparing, cooking and storing it to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

“Working with our local butcher’s shops and other food businesses is an easy way to help spread this important food safety message to consumers.”

Campylobacter isn’t visible, gives no odour and can’t be tasted but at its worst can paralyse or even kill.

The FSA is spearheading a campaign to bring together the whole food chain to tackle the problem and to raise consumer awareness of the risks and of the good hygiene practices necessary when handling raw poultry.

The Agency wants to cut the number of cases of campylobacter poisoning in half by the end of 2015.

Middlesbrough Council is asking local butchers shops to promote Food Safety Week and help protect their customers from the risks of campylobacter food poisoning.

The Council have also provided information to caterers in Middlesbrough to raise awareness of campylobacter and the hygiene practices that are needed to prevent its spread.

The Public Protection Service would like to encourage Middlesbrough residents to take the Chicken Challenge:

  • Bag and store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Do not wash raw chicken, this can spread bacteria.
  • Wash everything that has 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.

Edward Kunonga, Director of Public Health for Middlesbrough Council, said: “Reducing food borne infections is a key local and national food safety priority.

“In Middlesbrough, campylobacter infections account for more than half of all food borne diseases reported to the Council.

“The typical symptoms of campylobacter infections include severe diarrhoea and abdominal pain lasting between two and five days. It is a very unpleasant illness that can take several weeks to fully recover from.”