NHS Tayside is issuing some advice for safe preparation and cooking of raw meat.
The health service has been notified of a higher than usual number of people who have become ill recently with campylobacter infection.
Campylobacter is the most commonly identified bacterial cause of diarrhoea in Scotland and in the past has been found in a range of foods including raw meat, in particular raw poultry such as chicken.
The main symptoms are diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Symptoms are usually mild and get better by themselves. Anyone who develops diarrhoea they should stay away from nursery, school, the workplace and any group settings until clear of symptoms for 48 hours.
Barbecues carry a higher risk because of the possibility of cross-contamination between raw and ready to eat foods including cooked meat and salads.
In addition, care should be taken to prevent other foods commonly eaten with barbecues e.g. salads, from becoming contaminated by raw meat.
NHS Tayside is ecouraging the public to follow these food safety tips:
Wash your hands before preparing any food and especially between handling raw meat and other foods.
Don’t wash raw chicken as this practice can spread germs by splashing.
Raw and cooked foods/ready to eat foods should be kept apart at all times including during storage in the fridge or cool bag, to avoid transferring bacteria from raw meat to cooked foods.
Don’t allow cooked/ready to eat food to make contact with hands, chopping boards, knives or tongs which have touched raw food.
Always ensure that meat is cooked throughout, none of the meat is pink and the juices run clear. This is especially important for chicken, burgers, sausages and kebabs.
If barbecuing, food should be kept in the fridge or cool bag until they are ready to go on the barbecue and serving bowls should always be covered to protect from dirt and insects.
For information about preventing campylobacter food poisoning see the Food Standards Agency’s web site using the following link: http://food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/campylobacter/fsw-2014/ as well as tips on food safety, at the eatwell website, which has a helpful section on barbecues at www.eatwell.gov.uk