There are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning every year, with E-Coli, Listeria, and Salmonella more prevalent in the summer months than at other times in the year. Recent research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) indicates there are swathes of people across the country who are putting themselves at risk with poor food safety behaviours:
- 48% reported never checking their fridge temperature
- 37% said they didn’t know the recommended fridge temperature
- 58% thought the method for defrosting meat or fish was leaving it at room temperature
- 19% admitted eating burgers when pink or when there are red/pink juices.
Which is why the FSA runs Food Safety Week every year to give citizens up-to-date information and advice on food safety.
What is Food Safety Week?
This year, Food Safety Week (19 – 25 June) coincides with National Picnic week; our messages will focus on keeping food safe when picnicking, as well as honing in on safe barbecuing.
With an ever-increasing number of music and food festivals, community events, school fetes and street parties – all complete with al fresco dining, Local Authority EH teams could be busier than ever. So how can Councils and residents help reduce any potential food poisoning outbreaks or environmental health issues in their local area?
What does the FSA advise?
The FSA has broken down its advice into the ‘4Cs of summer food safety’:
- Chilling and defrosting: Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing, especially in the warm summer months. Generally, the colder the temperature, the slower germs will grow, but anything below 5oC is optimal.
- Cooking: Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria is killed. Food should be piping hot throughout; there should be no pink meat visible and all meat juices should run clear.
- Cleaning: Effective cleaning removes bacteria on hands, equipment and surfaces, helping to stop harmful bacteria from spreading onto food.
- Avoiding cross-contamination: Cross-contamination is most likely to happen when raw food touches (or drips onto) ready-to-eat food, utensils or surfaces.
Raising awareness of food safety
Summer is always a busy time for Environmental Health departments for the reasons stated above – outdoor and mass-catering events often take priority when it comes to food safety inspections. There is a range of tactics Councils can take to ensure that any food prepared away from professional kitchens is as safe as possible for wider distribution.
The FSA, as part of its Food Safety Week campaign, has produced a toolkit of useful materials on its website, which Councils can use to help reduce the risk of environmental health issues in their area. Aimed at residents, these materials range from posters and brochures to online infographics and short videos.
Managing Environmental Health issues and inspections
Environmental Health departments are often some of the busiest teams in Local Authorities; we understand this and have designed our Environmental Health system to ease this burden. The software automates all the statutory administrative requirements of EH in a way that reflects Officers’ working patterns.
Visit our Regulatory Services page for more information on how our cost-effective, cloud-based solution can help streamline all your Environmental Health processes and functions. Or get in touch to discuss any requirements you may have.