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6 June - Food Safety Week 2011

Author: Suzanne Engelbert Senior Communications Officer Published: 1st June 2011 09:29

Food Safety Week 2011

Food Safety Week, an annual event held to promote the importance of good food hygiene in the home, starts on 6 June.   

Results from a national survey conducted by the Foods Standards Agency highlighted that people may be putting themselves at risk of food poisoning because of some commonly held food safety myths.

People were asked whether they thought a range of statements about food safety were true or false - from the truth about ‘use by' dates to the infamous ‘five second rule' for food dropped on the floor.

Across the country findings show more than half (57 per cent) of the people that took part believe that they can tell if food is safe to eat just by its appearance or smell. This is not as easy as it seems.  Potentially dangerous food bugs like E.coli and salmonella don't always make food smell ‘off' and do not affect the appearance of food.

More than a third (37 per cent) of people questioned thought that ‘use by' dates are put on food packaging to encourage shoppers to throw it out so they have to buy more.  In reality the ‘use by' date is required by law and is an important indicator of how long a food will remain safe to eat.  Other dates that also appear, such as ‘best before' and ‘sell by' dates, relate to the food's quality rather than its safety.

One in ten people questioned believe that if you drop food on the floor it is safe to eat as long as you pick it up within five seconds.  There is no truth in the ‘five second rule', or any of its variations.  If there is one place your food is most likely to pick up bugs, it's on the floor.

Other myths highlighted in the research include:

  • Food Safety Week 2011Plastic Chopping BoardPlastic chopping boards are more hygienic than wooden ones. This is not true. Both can harbour germs if they aren't cleaned properly after use.

  • Food poisoning is caused by the last thing you ate. Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of those questioned thought this was true, but in fact for some bugs it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop.

  • You need to wash chicken and poultry before you cook it. One of the most common misconceptions with two thirds (65 per cent) thinking this is true. In fact washing chicken could splash germs around the kitchen. Cooking it thoroughly will be enough to kill any bacteria.

Food Safety Week 2011Bob Martin, a food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: "This research shows that many of us still have some misconceptions about how we should store, prepare and cook our food, which could put us at more risk of food poisoning. Getting food poisoning is pretty miserable, but for some people can be very dangerous. There are about a million cases every year and we're working hard with food producers, processors and retailers to bring that number down. With Food Safety Week we hope this research will help people think about what they do and better separate fact from fiction in their kitchens."

The hygiene standards of over 150,000 kitchens, including pubs, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and nursing homes are listed on the Scores on the Doors website http://www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk/, or follow the link from our website http://www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk/  For further advice contact a member of the Food Safety Team on 01480 388302


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