Food Standards Scotland launches Pink Chicken BBQ Food Safety Campaign

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has launched its Summer BBQ food safety campaign: ‘Nothing spoils summer like Pink Chicken’. 

Scotland’s public sector food body’s campaign will see a Pink Chicken go about Scotland creating mayhem and “spoiling summer”. The campaign has been launched in response to evidence which shows that increases in barbecuing and chicken purchase and consumption during June-August coincide with peaks in campylobacter infection.

The organisation highlighted that there were more than 6,000 reported campylobacter cases in Scotland each year, with some estimates putting the actual figure at nine times as many, due to under-reporting of the illness. Research has shown that 60-80% of campylobacter infections in Scotland can be attributed to a chicken source.

The campaign encourages people in Scotland to check that chicken is properly cooked to ensure they, and their friends and family, don’t come down with food poisoning. Research conducted by Kantar Worldpanel identified that around half (50%) of barbecued food is eaten by people under the age of 34, and is particularly popular with younger men.  

Dr Jacqui McElhiney, FSS’ head of foodborne disease, said: “Nothing spoils summer like food poisoning and our latest campaign highlights some simple steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of becoming ill through eating chicken that hasn’t been prepared or cooked properly. Always make sure there’s no pink meat, the juices run clear, and it’s cooked to 75°C.”

Geoff Ogle, FSS chief executive, added: “Any warm spell always encourages us to get outdoors and enjoy a barbecue with family and friends.

“Evidence tells us that barbecues and increased purchase of chicken during the summer months coincide with a spike in reported food poisoning cases at this time of year.

“More than three-quarters of people in Scotland don’t worry about food poisoning. We want people to enjoy themselves, so when you’re getting together and having barbecues, it’s important to make sure that you’re not ruining summer for yourself and others by coming down with food poisoning, which is easily preventable. That’s why we’ve created the Pink Chicken campaign; to ensure we minimise the risks of a spoilt summer.”

Dr Jacqui McElhiney offers up advice for cooking poultry on the barbecue

“When you’re cooking any kind of meat on the barbecue, make sure the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface as this means they’re hot enough. Also, bear in mind that different cuts of chicken will take different times to cook through – put larger pieces and bone-in cuts on the barbecue first to make sure they have enough time to cook. Before serving, always remember to check that there is no pink meat and that it’s steaming hot in the centre. We recommend using a meat thermometer if you can to make sure it has reached a safe temperature (75°C). It’s also a good idea to cook chicken in the oven first and finish it off on the barbecue for flavour.

“Always use separate tongs, utensils and plates for raw and cooked chicken, and wash hands regularly.”

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