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Careless approach to food safety could put Brits at risk when eating out this summer

www.gdaguru.com today reports that according to a new survey carried out for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), three quarters of people are prepared to take a chance with food safety when eating out, potentially putting them at increased risk of food poisoning. 25-07-2012

With the Olympic and Paralympic Games bringing a host of opportunities to eat out and enjoy the fantastic food on offer in London and across the country, the FSA is reminding Brits and visitors to the UK to protect their health by doing what they can to ensure the food they eat is safe.

Over a quarter of people surveyed (26%) said they are prepared to take bigger risks when eating out on holiday and over one in seven (15%) take a gamble with food at sporting and music events. Eating dodgy food after a night on the town is the biggest temptation, with 28% saying they are most likely to take a chance with food following an evening out. Just 25% say they would never take a chance with their food.

More than four in 10 of those surveyed (42%) believe they have suffered from food poisoning in the past and a further 32% think they may have, but can’t be sure. Women were more likely to report having suffered from food poisoning, with 44% stating this compared to 39% of men. Londoners were the most likely to say they’ve had a bad experience with food; 52% claimed this compared to just 35% of those in Yorkshire.

The poll also found that people often have the wrong idea about the foods most likely to make them ill when eating out. For example, 18% of people think kebabs are the worst culprit for food poisoning, but according to the survey just 2.6% of people who have suffered from food poisoning in the past believe that a kebab was the culprit. Yet a quarter (25%) of those who have fallen ill due to food blamed cooked meat or fish, despite just 3.7% of people thinking these foods would put them most at risk.

Sarah Appleby, Head of Enforcement at the FSA, said:
“Through our Play it Safe campaign, we’re celebrating the great food on offer in the UK and encouraging people not to take a chance and risk spoiling a great day or evening out during the Games.

“This survey shows that food safety often goes out of the window when people are away from home or at an event. This poses risks during the Olympic period when we expect more Brits and visitors from abroad to be eating out. Food businesses will also face additional challenges during the Games, with extra customers and potential issues with food transport and storage. Although we’re doing everything we can to support food businesses, the public should play its part by taking a closer look when making food purchases.”

The Food Standards Agency is advising people to take the following steps this summer to ensure the food they eat is safe:

• Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching, cooking or eating food (and always after using the toilet). If washing facilities are thin on the ground, consider using hand wipes or hand gels.

• Outside of Olympic venues, look for a hygiene rating sticker displayed on a food business’s premises to see if it has been rated well.
• If you can’t see one, take a closer look at the premises.
o Does it look clean?
o Is cold food kept cold, and raw food separated from cooked?
o If you order hot food, make sure it is hot and cooked the whole way through.
• If in doubt about the food you’re offered, don’t take a chance – try somewhere else.

Sarah adds: “We hope that our advice to the public and the work we have been doing with our local authority colleagues to support businesses will make a food safety incident highly unlikely. However, if you do fall ill with suspected food poisoning, report it to your doctor or local council and they will take the appropriate action.”
The Food Standards Agency is running the Play it Safe campaign to ensure that all food bought, cooked and eaten this summer is safe.

For more information, visit www.food.gov/olympics.

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