News & Updates

Wash hands, not poultry – Don’t risk festive food poisoning

 45% of Scots claim to have washed raw poultry, including the Christmas turkey

  •          58% of Scots are unaware of Campylobacter as a cause of food poisoning
  •          Poor hand washing still one of biggest risks of foodborne illnesses

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has today (12 December 2016) launched a new food safety campaign to highlight the risks of food poisoning over the festive season from washing raw poultry and not washing hands properly.

A FSS survey* revealed that 45% of adults in Scotland admit to washing raw poultry. With Christmas just around the corner, FSS is calling on those preparing the festive feast to be extra careful.

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

This research* also shows that 58% of Scots are unaware of what Campylobacter is.

This year’s Festive Food Safety Campaign runs until 31 December 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 foodborne 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.”

Jacqui McElhiney, Head of Food Protection, Science & 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.”

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 this festive season. 

Further ideas and advice are available on the FSS website www.foodstandards.gov.scot/festive and social media pages.

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