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FSA issues guide to cooking raw chicken and turkey as Salmonella food poisoning cases rise





Households are being reminded of the safest ways to handle and cook raw chicken, turkey and eggs amid a rise in cases of food poisoning.

The UK Health Security Agency is asking people to be careful when handling items like chilled and frozen chicken and turkey drumsticks, breasts, thighs and chicken pieces after recording more than 200 cases of salmonellosis, which has been linked to raw meat and eggs.

The UKHSA says an investigation into the cause is ongoing. Image: iStock.
The UKHSA says an investigation into the cause is ongoing. Image: iStock.

Lesley Larkin, deputy director for gastrointestinal infections at the UKHSA said: “Salmonella is a common bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Salmonella can be found in a variety of different foods but raw meat (processed and unprocessed), undercooked poultry, eggs and unpasteurised milk are the most commonly reported foods causing salmonellosis.

“Inadequate cooking and cross-contamination in the kitchen during food preparation can lead to salmonellosis. The bacteria can also spread from person to person.”

The Food Standards Agency says an investigation is ongoing into the ‘multiple’ strains of salmonella it believes are linked to poultry products imported from Poland.

A number of the cases, it adds, have also involved the consumption of eggs produced in Poland, which are then used in meals in restaurants and cafes. Officials are therefore also asking local councils to remind food businesses within their authorities, about the importance of good hygiene practices.

People must clean thoroughly after preparing raw meat. Image: iStock.
People must clean thoroughly after preparing raw meat. Image: iStock.

But with Christmas on the horizon, the FSA has re-issued its advice about handling, cooking and safely storing raw poultry and eggs to help people reduce their risk of food poisoning at home.

These include:

1. Always following cooking and storage instructions on the product label, including the cooking time and temperature.

2. Using or freezing products by the use-by date.

3. Washing hands thoroughly after handling raw poultry.

4. Never washing raw poultry products.

5. Clean all surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water after any contact with raw poultry.

6. Only reheat cooked and frozen meat once.

Cooking raw food, say experts at the FSA, for the correct time at the right temperature is crucial to ensure any harmful bacteria that could make people unwell are killed.

Good hand hygiene, says the UKHSA, can help stop the bacteria spreading. Image: Stock photo/ Department of Health and Social Care.
Good hand hygiene, says the UKHSA, can help stop the bacteria spreading. Image: Stock photo/ Department of Health and Social Care.

At the same time, thoroughly cleaning all surfaces and equipment can also reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Babies, children, pregnant women, and older people should only eat runny or raw eggs if they have a British Lion mark or are produced under the ‘Laid in Britain’ egg assurance scheme, say experts. However this advice does not apply to individuals who are severely immunocompromised.

Babies, children, pregnant women, and older people should be cautious when eating runny or raw eggs. Image: iStock.
Babies, children, pregnant women, and older people should be cautious when eating runny or raw eggs. Image: iStock.

Tina Potter, head of incidents at the Food Standards Agency added: “Salmonella is a type of stomach bug that causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms typically resolve themselves within a few days, however, they can be more severe with fever and dehydration, especially in young children, those who are pregnant and those with weakened immune systems.

“Salmonella can be spread from person to person as well as from food, so anyone affected should follow good hygiene practices, such as washing hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and avoiding handling food for others where possible, if you have symptoms.”



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