Food for thought over summer months

Food poisoning cases tend to rise in the summer month and (below) Dr Ken Lamden, from the Health Protection Agency.

Food poisoning cases tend to rise in the summer month and (below) Dr Ken Lamden, from the Health Protection Agency.

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AS the temperature rises, so do numbers of cases of food poisoning.

And Fylde coast residents are being urged to make sure they take precautions, during Food Safety Week, which starts today, to make sure they don’t succumb to diarrhoea and vomiting.

Dr Ken Lamden, from the Health Protection Agency.

Dr Ken Lamden, from the Health Protection Agency.

The Health Protection Agency in Lancashire says food poisoning can be avoided if people follow a few simple rules for safe storage, preparation and cooking of food, whether at home or outside at a barbecue or picnic.

Each year over the summer months, the HPA sees an increase in cases of food poisoning, including salmonella and campylobacter.

Both can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pains and cramps, fever, and generally feeling unwell.

In 2011, there were 48 cases of salmonella in Blackpool confirmed by laboratory tests and 377 campylobacter cases.

Dr Ken Lamden, HPA regional lead for gastro-intestinal diseases, said leftovers posed a big problem.

“It can be very tempting to keep leftovers for too long, but they should always be eaten within two days. Being careful with leftovers is just part of food safety in your kitchen. Think of the four Cs – Cooking food thoroughly, Cleanliness, avoiding Contamination by hand-washing and keeping raw and cooked food separate and Cooling food before freezing.”

HPA advice for cooking and avoiding cross-contamination:

>> Do not keep food in the fridge for too long and heed use-by guidance.

>> Check fridges and maintain at lower than five degrees Celsius.

>> Store cooked and raw meat separately – cooked meats on a higher shelf.

>> Ensure meat and poultry are thoroughly defrosted before cooking.

>> Consume food within four hours of removal from chilled storage.

>> Keep raw meat/poultry away from produce not requiring cooking, such as salad vegetables.

>> Use separate knives and chopping boards for preparing raw and cooked products.

>> Wash hands thoroughly before/after handling food and eating. If outside, use hand wipes.

>> Do not butter/eat bread/touch salad after handling raw meat, without thoroughly washing hands.

>> Barbecue small portions only.

>> Barbecues should be lit before use to ensure the grill is hot enough to cook food.

There will be food safety events taking place this week. On Wednesday, at Mereside Children’s Centre on Langdale Road, Mereside and Saturday, Claremont Gala, Claremont Park, North Shore.

For more information, log on to www.food.gov.uk.