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Summertime and the livin’ is easy… especially for bacteria

Posted on 21 June 2017 by Charlotte Saunders, Researcher .
Tags: food

Picnic Credit Personalcreations .com

I love summer. I love wearing sandals. I love long sunny evenings. And I really love the warm weather. Unfortunately, bacteria love it too. Many of us enjoy eating outdoors on sunny days, but perfect picnic weather is also perfect for bacterial growth and can lead to an increased risk of food poisoning. This is why the Food Standards Agency have launched their “Safe Summer Food” campaign giving tips for keeping food safe during al fresco dining.

Analysis of the latest wave of the Food and You survey shows that it isn’t just warm weather that puts us at risk of food poisoning. When it comes to food hygiene, a lot of us need to improve our habits:

  • Half of us (48%) don’t know that a fridge should be kept between 0°C and 5°C.
  • Half of us (52%) defrost meat or fish by leaving it at room temperature or placing it in water, despite guidelines recommending that meat and fish should be defrosted in the fridge or microwave.
  • And a quarter of us (26%) don’t use different chopping boards for different foods which risks spreading bacteria from one food to another.

But further analysis by NatCen, commissioned by the FSA to explore regional differences in food hygiene behaviours, found that some parts of the country are more hygienic than others. As a Londoner I was disappointed to find we have some of the most risky habits of all. Did you know that one in five Londoners reheat leftovers more than once?

Looking at regional figures isn’t just about pitting regions against each other. Regional figures allow local councils to tailor their public health messaging so that it is relevant and useful for their residents. They also help campaigns like #SafeSummerFood to enhance local media coverage which can help get the word out to a wider audience. Using regional statistics, with additional context from the national data, increases the relevance of the campaign for both local news outlets and local communities. Analysing existing large, national datasets is a cost-effective and efficient way to improve campaigns.

If you think your picnic habits could use cleaning up, find out how to keep your sandwiches safe using the FSA’s guide to Safe Summer Food. Bon appetit!

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Charlotte_Saun

Image credit: Personal Creations via Flickr

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