Food Safety Week 2011
07 June 2011
With the major E.coli incident ongoing in Europe, the start of the annual Food Safety Week is a strong reminder of the importance of following good food hygiene.
This year Food Safety Week is looking at food safety in the home and a survey has revealed that that people are putting themselves at risk of food poisoning because of some commonly held food safety myths. So as consumers are reminded of the importance of washing fruit and vegetables before use the survey identified other poor practices of hygiene in the home.
People were asked whether they thought a range of statements about food safety were true or false – from the truth about ‘use by’ dates to the infamous ‘five second rule’ for food dropped on the floor.
- Across the country findings show more than half (57 per cent) of us believe that we can tell if food is safe to eat just by its appearance or smell. This is wrong. Potentially dangerous food bugs like E.coli and salmonella don’t always make food smell ‘off’ and do not affect the appearance of food.
- More than a third (37 per cent) of people questioned thought that ‘use by’ dates are put on food packaging to encourage shoppers to throw it out so they have to buy more. In reality the ‘use by’ date is required by law and is an important indicator of how long a food will remain safe to eat. Other dates that also appear, such as ‘best before’ and ‘sell by’ dates, relate to the food’s quality rather than its safety.
- One in ten people questioned believe that if you drop food on the floor it is safe to eat as long as you pick it up within five seconds. Alas there is no truth in the ‘five second rule’, or any of its variations. If there is one place your food is most likely to pick up bugs, it’s on the floor.
You can download the full survey questions and correct answers that were used in the Food and You survey that was carried out by the Food Standards Agency below.
Bob Martin, a food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: ‘This research shows that many of us still have some misconceptions about how we should store, prepare and cook our food, which could put us at more risk of food poisoning.
‘Overall it seems that people over the age of 65 are more likely to believe many of these food myths. In particular they are more likely to believe ‘use by’ dates are there to make you throw food away before you need to, which is worrying as people over 65 who get food poisoning get it more severely than younger people and are more likely to end up in hospital.
‘Getting food poisoning is pretty miserable but for some people can be very dangerous. There are about a million cases every year and we’re working hard with food producers, processors and retailers to bring that number down. With Food Safety Week starting today we hope this research will help people think about what they do and better separate fact from fiction in their kitchens.
Further details of how to prepare food safely at home can be found in the link below.
For further information please contact:
Owen Fulton Lead Environmental Health Officer
Telephone: 9335 8000