Wash your hands, not the bird- NI release

safefood team up with Jenny Bristow to deliver seasonal food safety reminder this Christmas

23 November, 2006. As part of its Christmas campaign, safefood today joined forces with celebrity chef Jenny Bristow to hold a Christmas cooking ‘masterclass’ urging consumers NOT to wash their Christmas bird before placing it in the oven. Research has shown that bacteria such as Campylobacter which is present in 4 in 10 turkeys, can spread through splashes if washed and can survive for three days or more¹ on work surfaces or other foods.

Dr. Thomas Quigley, Director, Food Science, safefood said, “Consumers should be more concerned about washing their hands, than rinsing poultry under the tap, which does little to reduce the number of germs on the surface of poultry. By simply placing the bird directly onto a roasting tray and straight into the oven, consumers can significantly reduce the risk of cross contamination in the kitchen”.

In a survey² conducted by safefood, 3 out of 4 consumers said they were unaware that poultry should not be washed before placing in the oven. 

A recent study, conducted by the University of Limerick showed that when preparing chicken, Campylobacter was detected on 36% of draining boards, 18% of oven handles, 27% of hands and 27% of counter tops. Proper cooking is the only way to kill any bacteria that are present on raw turkey. 

“The importance of hand washing is often underestimated and research has shown that 40% of diarrhoeal illnesses can be prevented by hand washing. Failure to implement good food safety behaviour including handwashing during food preparation can result in contamination of food and the kitchen itself”, continued Dr. Quigley. “By washing your hands after handling raw food you can really reduce the risks of getting food poisoning helping to make it a safe and happy Christmas”, he added.

Jenny Bristow continued: “The message is clear for consumers this Christmas, wash your hands, not the bird. Following safefood’s advice is easy; by simply placing the bird directly into the roasting tray and straight into the oven, consumers can avoid food poisoning. Any harmful germs present will be killed by cooking the bird thoroughly, leaving the meat safe to eat.”

“Of course this advice applies to every occasion when poultry is being prepared, not just at Christmas time. Poultry should be cooked until the juices run clear, ensuring it is piping hot all the way through and there is no pink meat left.”

The masterclass was held at St. George’s City Food and Garden Market, using fresh local ingredients sourced at the market. In addition to providing practical food safety tips on preparation, storage, cooking at home this Christmas, the masterclass also introduced some delicious and nutritious recipes developed by Jenny to be enjoyed over the festive season.

Andrew Irvine, Belfast City Council Market Development Officer, said, “We are delighted to welcome safefood and Jenny Bristow to St. George’s City Food and Garden Market today. We are keen on the benefits of buying local market produce and it was especially interesting to hear first hand from the experts how to prepare and enjoy your Christmas meal safely. We can all make a more conscious effort to avoid cross-contamination of foods and not let food poisoning spoil our family Christmas.”

Further food safety information is available from www.safefood.eu or by calling safefood on 0800 085 1683.


For further information please contact

Leanne McCarroll/Kathy Doyle
Tel: 028 9039 5500 safefood
Fiona Gilligan
Tel: 003531 4480060
St. George’s City Food & Garden Market
Lindsay Beacom / Selina McElwee
Tel: 028 9039 5500
Email: lindsay.beacom@iassmarts.com
Belfast City Council Media Relations Office
Mark Ashby           
Tel: 028 9027 0641
Email: ashbym@belfastcity.gov.uk

Editor's Notes

  • ¹03-RESR-013 Persistence and dissemination of Salmonella and Campylobacter in domestic kitchen. Led by Prof. David McDowell, University of Ulster at Jordanstown
  • ²safetrak Wave 6 March 2006
  • **FSA projects, B02004 and B02010
  • **Curtis and Cairncross, The Lancet Infectious Diseases Vol 3 May 2003