May 13, 2006
There are fresh calls for consumers to handle chicken properly following a new report which has found nearly all the raw meat sold over the counter carries campylobacter.
The bacteria is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.
Commissioned by the Food Safety Authority, the report indicates that more than 90% of the raw chicken we buy could be contaminated with campylobactor.
But we’re also at risk from other raw meats.
It comes as health authorities warn we’re seriously under-reporting the prevalence of the debilitating bacteria.
On average we eat about 36 kilograms of chicken per person every year
“It’s a warning to people that it needs to be handled properly and cooked properly,” says Dr Mel Brieseman, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health.
And while the statistics may appear alarming, the food safety authority says its not too surprised.
“It’s the cross-contamination with the chicken or other meats onto the uncooked, or onto the glass that goes up to our lips, that is probably the most important route of infection for humans,” Dr Roger Cook says from the Food Safety Authority.
The poultry industry association maintain that adequate cooking and handling are vital with chicken as it is with all meats. But they also add that addressing the campylobacter problem is a key industry focus.
And the authority says the industry’s food handing standards are acceptable
“They’ve been designed, monitored and controlled to prevent the cross-contamination, but it’s not always that easy to do,” Dr Cook says.
As for consumers – they don’t seem fazed
“Chicken is one of those things that you always have to be aware of as long as you cook it properly everything should be fine,” says one.
And for that reason, the four c’s are vital, cook, clean, chill, cover.