A quarter of people risk health when food shopping

Issued on behalf of safefood and the Food Standards Agency NI

Monday 9 June, 2008. A survey released today by the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSANI) and safefood to mark National Food Safety Week (9 June - 13 June 2008) revealed that a quarter (24%) of people in Northern Ireland risk food poisoning when doing their grocery shopping.

The FSANI and safefood want to communicate two simple messages to shoppers during this year’s National Food Safety Week. Firstly, pack raw foods separately and, secondly, try to get home as soon as possible after food shopping to get chilled and frozen foods back into the fridge or freezer.

The results highlighted that a quarter of shoppers do not always pack raw foods, such as raw meat, poultry and fish, separately from ready-to-eat foods. Raw foods could contain germs which could spread if packed with ready to eat foods, such as bakery products, increasing the risk of food poisoning. 

The survey gathered results from over 800 people across all 26 council areas in Northern Ireland. It found that a third (32%) of shoppers in Northern Ireland do not plan their shopping trips to allow them to get chilled and frozen food into the fridge or freezer as quickly as possible. This is important as it will prevent these foods from warming up or thawing which helps to control the growth of any germs.

Dr David McCleery, safefood, said: “Whether you are doing a small top-up shop or a regular weekly or monthly shop, it’s important to get your food home as soon as is practical to keep it safe. Try to plan your shopping day so that you’re browsing shops or meeting friends first and doing your food shopping last.”

“Our survey indicates that only 20% of shoppers use coolbags to store their groceries during their journey home. The use of coolbags is something that we strongly recommend as it is an excellent way to keep your groceries cold during transport, particularly in warm weather or if you have a long journey home”.

Michael Jackson, FSANI, said: “National Food Safety Week gives us the perfect opportunity to remind shoppers of the two simple rules when food shopping – pack raw foods separately and when buying chilled and frozen foods, take them home directly.

“Our survey showed that we have lots to learn about food safety when grocery shopping, but on a more positive note, we discovered that once shoppers have returned home, 93% of people in Northern Ireland immediately unpack and put away chilled and frozen foods.”

FSANI and safefood in support of National Food Safety Week have produced reusable shopping bags that highlight the key food safety messages. The bags will be given out in selected SuperValu and Centra stores throughout Northern Ireland during National Food Safety Week.

Working in partnership with the 26 councils, the National Food Safety Week campaign in Northern Ireland is co-funded by FSANI and safefood.
Anyone requiring further information about National Food Safety Week should contact the safefood helpline on 0800 085 1683.


Notes to editors

  • Over 800 people at 26 locations across Northern Ireland took part in the National Food Safety Week survey.
  • An accompanying photograph for the National Food Safety Week leaflet is attached.
  • For further information please contact the safefood team at Smarts PR on 028 90395500. If you are calling out of hours please contact Susie Rea on 07789721822.