14th October 2016

Campylobacter (The Dreaded Bacteria) – A Must Read!

Posted by: Cater Care

Don’t chicken out!!!

Do you know what the most common type of food poisoning bacteria is in Ireland? Usually the answer I get to this question is Salmonella! Yes this was the most common bacteria a few years ago but Campylobacter has been on a steady increase in recent years.

There are 10 times more cases of Campylobacter being reported than Salmonella, and according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI); more than half of Irish produced whole chickens are contaminated with the bacteria. Ireland currently has the highest levels of the Campylobacter bacteria in Europe so tighter controls and awareness of the bacteria need to be enforced.

So what is Campylobacter and how does it cause illness?
Campylobacter is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the intestinal tract of poultry. These birds rarely show signs of illness. Campylobacter can be easily spread from bird to bird through a contaminated water source or through contact with faeces. When an infected bird is slaughtered, Campylobacter in the bird’s intestines can contaminate the meat.

What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are diarrhoea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within 2 to 5 days after eating the contaminated food. The illness typically lasts one week. Some infected people do not have any symptoms. In people with a weakened immune system, Campylobacter could cause a serious life-threatening infection called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This infection attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis!

How is the bacteria spread?
And this is where I ask the question: TO WASH OR NOT TO WASH THE CHICKEN BEFORE COOKING??!!On many occasions the answer I get is yes! At home people are still in the routine of washing the chicken. A recent survey found that 44% of people still wash chickens. Rinsing the chicken will not remove bacteria, once the water splashes onto the chicken the bacteria is spread around your sink and onto all surfaces where water splashes onto.

Washing will spread the bacteria while thoroughly cooking it to a high temperature will kill the bacteria.

Most cases of infection result from handling raw poultry or eating undercooked poultry. It doesn’t take many bacteria to cause illness. This can mean that even a drop of juice from raw chicken could make someone sick.

Another common way for the infection to spread is through cross contamination. This is when raw poultry is prepared on work surfaces or chopping boards that have not been properly washed between tasks and are then used to prepare cooked foods.

Contamination can then pass from the raw meat to ready-to-eat foods. Handling raw poultry and then handling a ready-to-eat food, without washing hands can result in contamination of the ready-to-eat food.

How can you prevent the spread of Campylobacter? Here are some helpful Guidelines:

  • Never wash poultry as this can spread the bacteria around your kitchen.
  • Prevent cross contamination between raw poultry and cooked food.
  • Ensure correct storage of poultry is maintained in the fridge, raw food should be placed on the bottom shelf away from cooked foods.
  • Ensure poultry is thoroughly cooked to a core temperature of 75°C or above.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling raw poultry.
  • Wash all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces with hot soapy water after preparing raw poultry.
  • Do not rinse poultry packaging as this can also spread the bacteria. It should be placed directly into the bin.

I hope this information is useful both for the safety of your customers and for you at home! If you have any further questions about this bacteria and preventing it’s spread then feel free to contact the office on 061 469008 or email info@catercare.ie

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