New figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggest that up to a third of the population could contract food poisoning from campylobacter, a bug most commonly found on raw chicken, during their lifetime.
The figure is based on the current infection rates of more than a quarter of a million people per year.
Last year in the UK, there were 280,000 cases of campylobacter food poisoning and 100 deaths (according to the FSA).
The FSA has launched the ‘Chicken Challenge’ as a call to the whole food chain, from industry to consumers, to do their bit to halve the number of campylobacter food poisoning cases by the end of 2015.
Food Standards Agency director Nina Purcell said: “We’ve been working hard with the poultry industry to reduce that number by cutting the level of contamination on shop-bought chickens.
“At the moment, up to a third of us could fall ill with campylobacter at some point in our lives.
“We all have a responsibility to do what we can to reduce that figure.
“If everyone lives up to their promises - the FSA, consumers and the industry - then this really can happen, hugely reducing the number of people who get ill every year.”
Th Food Safety Week ‘Chicken Challenge’ is asking people who eat chicken to promise to take the following steps to protect themselves and their families:
Store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge
Not to wash raw chicken as it splashes germs
Wash everything that’s touched raw chicken in soap and hot water, including hands and utensils
Check chicken is cooked properly until it’s steaming hot throughout with no pink meat and the juices run clear
For more details about the chicken challenge, visit Chicken Challenge
Chicken is a very popular food, with almost 73 per cent of us eating chicken every week, and about four in five cases of campylobacter food poisoning in the UK come from contaminated poultry.
Campylobacter poisoning usually develops a few days after eating contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting.
It can affect you forever, sparking off irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reactive arthritis and, in rare cases, Guillain-Barre syndrome – a serious condition of the nervous system. At its worst, it can kill.