November 12 to 18th is Australian Food Safety Week and will see awareness being raised about the danger of cross contamination, especially cross contamination originating with chicken.
Although chicken is the most commonly consumed meat in Oz, there are many food poisoning cases linked to them each year. These cases have increased dramatically over the last 2 decades. Food Safety Week organisers hope to tackle this issue by creating awareness around the need to properly cook, store and handle chicken so as to prevent cross contamination and the subsequent food poisoning it causes.
This post on Heraldsun.com.au has more about Aussie Food Safety Week:
Home cooks are putting themselves and their family at risk by not preparing and cooking chicken or other poultry properly, as the number of food poisoning cases has almost doubled in the past 20 years.
A Food Safety Information Council Newspoll survey found six out of 10 people who cook at home washed chicken before cooking it, which increases the risk of bacteria infection because it spreads to other food and surfaces.
According to OzFoodnet, there are about 220,000 food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter infections reported in Australia each year, with about 50,000 of these cases linked to chicken meat directly or indirectly _ either from eating uncooked poultry or from cross contamination.
Although more people are actually reporting food poisoning, experts believe this is a genuine spike in cases over the years.
Latest figures from Food Standards Australia New Zealand show Campylobacter was found in 84 per cent of raw chicken that was tested and Salmonella was found in 22 per cent.
This is consistent with other findings around the world but the bacteria can be killed and the poultry made safe if it is cooked properly.
The survey also found 16 per cent of people tasted chicken to see it was cooked, risking infection, instead of using a meat thermometer.
The Food Safety Information Council’s executive officer Juliana Madden said washing chicken is considered an old fashioned practice so they were surprised by how many admitted to still doing it.
Ms Madden said it can be safe if it is done properly but many people were not aware that the bacteria can spread to other food and surfaces.
“Cross contamination with chicken juices is one of the main contributors to these types of food poisoning,” Ms Madden said.
So how exactly can you avoid causing cross contamination of food?
Separate raw and cooked food to prevent cross contamination. Transferring bacteria from one food to another can be dangerous but this can be avoided by washing hands thoroughly with hot soapy water and drying them properly before preparing food. Also after touching any raw meats hands should be washed before preparing food, especially after touching raw chicken which is known to carry various bacteria in its raw form.
Ensure that all utensils used as well as equipment, surfaces and tea towels are cleaned after preparing raw food and before contact with other foods preferably using a disinfectant or antibacterial soap.
Foods that present an increased risk when raw such as chicken, fish and raw meat should be stored on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to prevent any drippings from contaminated other food in the fridge. Overloading the fridge may reduce its cooling capabilities, so make sure you do not exceed the fridge load limit.