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Food Safety Week 2013 - You are what you eat

View profile for Pauline Smith
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The Food Standards Agency have launched their "Food Safety Week" taking place between the 10th and 16th of June, following on the back of some quite frightening statistics.  More than a million people in the UK alone suffer from food poisoning every year, and a recent survey carried out of over 2000 people by the FSA, the results of which were reported in The Times, confirmed that 43% would consume food after the "use by" date and 29% would eat food after it had been dropped on the floor.

This campaign follows on the back of the "Where Are You Really Eating Out? scheme launched by the FSA in March this year.  This highlighted the use of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and The Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland, to enable patrons to use reliable, recorded information to help choose a dining venue, rather than just relying on appearance.  The FSA's research shows that more than two thirds of customers judge the hygiene standards of a place by the general appearance of the premises or staff.  The FSA have online food hygiene ratings where you can check the status of the restaurant or other establishment that you intend to visit.  Go to ratings.food.gov.uk for further information.

The FSA are promoting the use of the Four Cs in relation to food storage and preparation, and general kitchen hygiene, these being "Cleaning", "Cross contamination","Chilling, and "Cooking".  These are the golden rules in relation to happy and healthy kitchens, promoting regular hand washing, storage of food below 5 degrees centigrade in a fridge, not overfilling a fridge, and using separate boards for preparation of raw meats and vegetables.

The FSA have lots of advice and have produced an online Kitchen Check to enable people to compare just how clean their kitchen is.  They hope to make food hygiene food, by specifically designing an activity pack for children, and you can even tweet them a photograph of your own, or work fridge, using #FridgeClinic, and they will helpfully tweet back with tips regarding how to organise it more safely.

Stephensons have successfully dealt with many food poisoning cases, and of course, while most people associate this condition with the unpleasant side effects of vomiting and diarrhoea, in some cases the symptoms can become much worse, including severe dehydration, reactive complications affecting joints and skin, and of course, the real risk that other, essential medications taken by the affected person becoming ineffective.

Of course, one would hope that everyone would use these common sense practices in their own kitchens, however, how many of us have to use shared kitchen facilities in an office, or place of work? Should factory canteens apply the same vigorous rules to kitchen hygiene as say, a highly regarded restaurant? The truth is that if they wish to avoid an outbreak of food poisoning in the workplace then they must.

By associate executive, Pauline Smith

If you have been affected by food poisoning as a result of dining out, or at an event, and wish to seek specialist advice, please contact Stephensons' Personal Injury Department.