BfR drives home hygiene message when handling raw food

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Pathogens in raw meat could be transferred to RTE foods - BfR. Photo: Istock/donstock
Pathogens in raw meat could be transferred to RTE foods - BfR. Photo: Istock/donstock

Related tags: Chicken

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has urged consumers to pay attention to hygiene to avoid foodborne illness.

The German agency said meat fondues or cooking at the table in little pans with preparation of raw meat, fresh vegetables and sauces are popular during winter.

However, pathogens potentially present in raw meat can be transferred to ready-to-eat foods, if they come into contact with the same plate or cutlery.

Bacteria can be transferred directly from one food to the other if they come in contact when unpackaged and indirectly via hands, equipment, work surfaces, knives and other kitchen utensils.

Campylobacteriosis risk from Fondue chinoise was assessed by Swiss researchers in 2014.

Frequent Campylobacter infection

Infection with Campylobacter is the most frequently reported foodborne bacterial disease in Germany and the EU. More than 70,000 cases were registered in the country in 2014.

Campylobacter is often detected in raw poultry meat but other raw or insufficiently heated foods of animal origin, such as hen eggs, raw milk and raw meat products such as steak tartare, can contain the pathogen.

BfR said due to poor hygiene the bacteria spread to other foods during preparation, which can result in illness. Even very small quantities of thebacteria can cause intestinal infections.

Professor Dr Andreas Hensel, BfR president, said Campylobacter infections can be avoided by separating raw meat – in particular poultry – from ready-to-eat foods.

“Good kitchen hygiene also involves consistent cleaning of hands, kitchen utensils and surfaces on which foods are prepared. This has to be accomplished after coming into contact with raw products of animal origin and prior to the preparation of other ingredients of a meal.“

Increase in reports

Campylobacteriosis has been the most commonly reported bacterial, foodborne disease in Europe and Germany for years, said BfR.  

In 2014, the Robert Koch Institute and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recorded an increase in reported cases of 11.5% and 9.6% respectively over the previous year.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found an EU-wide increase in Campylobacterdetection in broiler flocks in 2014 compared to the previous year, although there has been no change in the detection rate in chicken meat samples.

In Germany, there was a significant increase in Campylobacter-positive samples from broiler flocks as well as from chicken meat in 2014 compared to 2013. 

Campylobacter can be killed by heating, i.e. through boiling, frying, roasting or pasteurising. The prerequisite is that 70°C is reached at the core of the food for at least two minutes. 

Deep-freezing cannot completely kill it but does reduce the number of germs.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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