14/06/2004

Council issues food poisoning warning

With the barbecue season upon us, Belfast City Council has issued a timely reminder about the dangers of food poisoning.

With the summer months seeing an increase in food-borne illness from bacteria such as salmonella, campylobacter and e-coli, the Council is highlighting the importance of taking proper precautions to prevent potentially fatal consequences.

“There are a few basic steps which everyone can take to prevent food poisoning,” said Belfast City Council Environmental Health Officer, Karen Williams, speaking at the start of National Food Safety Week (June 14-20).

“Basically, there are four watchwords – clean, separate, cook and chill. You should always make sure you clean your hands, work surfaces and all utensils before, during and after cooking.

"You can also reduce the risk of cross-contamination by keeping different types of foods, such as raw and cooked meats, separate from one another."

Stressing that these guidelines applied not only in the home but anywhere food was being prepared, Karen added: “There are literally hundreds of events in Belfast each summer, at which food is prepared – from school and church fêtes to community festivals It is vital that anyone catering at such events is as mindful of the dangers of food poisoning as if they were in their own home."

During National Food Safety Week, Belfast has joined with Northern Ireland’s other 25 district councils, the Food Safety Promotion Board, the Food Standards Agency of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, and the General Consumer Agency to highlight potential dangers and promote good hygiene habits.

Specially produced leaflets are being distributed among 2,000 community-based organisations across Northern Ireland during the week.

Belfast City Council is also staging a special roadshow at the Park Centre shopping centre on the Donegall Road to highlight the risks associated with people not cleaning their hands properly.

(MB)

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