Wash Hands And Not Poultry This Christmas

12 December 2016, 07:16

A food safety watchdog is urging people to wash hands - not poultry - to reduce the risk of food poisoning over the festive period.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has launched a new campaign after research found that almost half (45%) of adults in Scotland admit to washing raw poultry.

This can splash harmful bacteria like Campylobacter, one of the most common causes of food poisoning in Scotland, over work surfaces and cooking utensils.

However, the FSS research found that almost six in 10 (58%) Scots are unaware of what Campylobacter is.

This year's Festive Food Safety Campaign runs from December 12 to December 31 and will promote good hygiene practices in the kitchen with hand washing and food preparation at its core.

Christmas cooks are being encouraged to ensure work surfaces are kept clean, with top tips including using separate or colour-coded chopping boards for raw meat and vegetables.

Professor Norval Strachan, Chief Scientific Adviser at FSS, said: "Good hygiene practices when you're preparing food are vital to a happy and healthy Christmas.

"Campylobacter is often found on raw or uncooked meat, particularly poultry. It is the most common cause of food-borne illness in Scotland and it can have some pretty nasty symptoms.

"The research carried out by FSS shows that washing poultry is a common occurrence in households across the country and the levels of people failing to wash their hands before and after preparing food are still high.

"Avoiding cross contamination is one of the best ways to protect yourself from Campylobacter. Washing poultry is actually unnecessary as proper cooking will kill these harmful germs. You'll also run the risk of contaminating work surfaces and other utensils so it's not worth risking it.''

FSS's festive campaign encourages people to adopt healthy kitchen practices this Christmas with an accompanying social media campaign featuring useful hints and top tips on keeping the kitchen clean.

Jacqui McElhiney, Head of Food Protection, Science and Surveillance at FSS, said: "We know everyone is busy in the kitchen at this time of year but it's important to take the time to follow good hygiene practice when you are preparing and cooking your Christmas meal. No-one wants to be ill at Christmas.

"We don't want to detract from the fun and celebrations of the season and we want our festive campaign to reduce complacency about the risks of food poisoning. Only small behavioural changes are required and our message is simple - wash your hands and not your poultry.''

The survey was undertaken by TNS on FSS's behalf amongst a representative sample of 1,003 adults in Scotland between December 8 and 15, 2015.