I was interviewed by BBC radio Derby to comment on new touch-free packaging for chicken being introduced by Sainsbury’s. In short I think it’s a good idea so long as it does not lead to extra plastic waste, but I also find it is normally possible to handle standard packages in a touch-free way. The interviewer and original news article suggested young people are just becoming too squeamish but I challenged this because that is sensible behaviour. Raw chicken carries harmful germs like Campylobacter. It is sensible to take precautions that avoid spreading these germs in the kitchen and beyond.
Here are some notes and resources relating to this subject:
- Chicken is often contaminated with bacteria which will cause food poisoning, especially Campylobacter ~ 50 %.
- Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in UK – contaminated poulty is the main source. It can survive in a wide variety of environments but we don’t really know why poultry are so susceptible to carriage of the bacteria
- Campy is good at evading our immune systems and this is an active area of research. One mechanism is formation of biofilm. They seem to be able to avoid the immune system by phase variation.
- Others include Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Bacillus, Clostridium
- Bacillus and Clostridium are spore forming
- Campylobacter infection originates in the flocks during rearing and processing
- Campylobacter can survive 24 hours on kitchen surfaces (Humphrey et al 2001 )
- Cooking kills bacteria but if the food was heavily contaminated e.g. due to being past it’s use by date then there can be toxins remaining even after cooking
- NHS livewell website provides good advice on food hygiene: http://nhs.uk/livewell
- Meat packaging is generally not recycled because of food contamination concerns
- Original article from the Sunday Times