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Preventing illness through good food hygiene

19 May 2015

Environmental Health officers are using Food Safety Week to highlight a dangerous germ which is present in raw chicken and causes over 1,000 incidents of food poisoning in Jersey each year.

When handled and cooked properly, chicken is part of a healthy diet, eaten by about three-quarters of the UK’s population, but inadequate food hygiene standards can lead to illness caused by a germ called campylobacter.

Campylobacter is a germ that is primarily found on raw chicken which cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Food poisoning usually develops a few days after eating contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting.

Food hygiene standards

Some victims 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 – paralysis or death. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.

"We are seeking to encourage Islanders to be aware of the dangers and raise their food hygiene standards accordingly," said the Environmental Health team leader for food safety and infectious disease, Caroline Maffia. "If everyone does their bit, including industry and consumers, we can achieve big reductions in the number of cases.

"Habits are formed easily, but it takes just a few changes to help protect your family and friends from the miseries of food poisoning."

Environmental Health is asking Islanders 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 – hands, work tops and utensils
  • check chicken is cooked properly – no pink meat, steaming hot and the juices run clear
  • spread the word to help family and friends make these simple changes

Minister for Health and Social Services, Senator Andrew Green, said "Food poisoning can have a range of negative consequences, including absence from work, the additional burden on our healthcare service and of course the discomfort of feeling unwell. To stop the spread of germs we need to spread the word about good standards of food hygiene."

Food Safety Week is an annual awareness campaign run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK.

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