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


Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has 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 per cent 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.

Research also shows that 58 per cent of Scots are unaware of what Campylobacter is.

This year’s Festive Food Safety Campaign runs until 31 December and promotes 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.

Fiona Smith, Team Leader with NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Dietetic Health Promotion Team, said: “No one wants to be ill, especially at this time of year, and the symptoms of food poisoning could certainly spoil your Christmas. Campylobacter is often found on raw or uncooked meat, particularly poultry. Washing poultry is unnecessary as proper cooking will kill these harmful germs. And if you wash your turkey or chicken you run the risk of contaminating surrounding work surfaces and other utensils.

“By following simple hygiene advice in the kitchen you will avoid cross-contamination and ensure you and your loved ones remember your Christmas meal for the right reasons – so wash your hands and not your poultry.”

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 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.”

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.