It will see a pink chicken go around Scotland in response to evidence which shows that increases in barbecuing and chicken purchase and consumption during June-August coincide with peaks in Campylobacter infection, which is the most common form of food poisoning in the country.
FSS said there are more than 6,000 reported Campylobacter cases each year, with some estimates putting the figure at nine times as many due to under-reporting. Research has shown that 60-80% of such infections can be attributed to a chicken source.
Dr Jacqui McElhiney, FSS’s head of foodborne disease, said it was important to make sure there’s no pink meat, the juices run clear, and it’s cooked to 75°C.
“When you’re cooking any kind of meat on the barbecue, make sure 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,” she said.
“Before serving, always remember to check that there is no pink meat and that it’s steaming hot in the center. We recommend using a meat thermometer if you can to make sure it’s 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 regularly wash hands.”
Geoff Ogle, FSS chief executive, said evidence shows barbecues and increased purchase of chicken during the summer months coincide with a spike in reported food poisoning cases.
“Food poisoning can be contracted through chicken which is not properly cooked, contact between raw meat and ready to eat foods, or poor hygiene,” he said.
“So, handling raw food also means washing your hands before handling salad and other foods. In the warmer temperatures, it’s also important to make sure more perishable foods are kept chilled to make sure they are safe to eat.”
Meanwhile, the agency is consulting on a draft proposal for a Foodborne Illness Strategy for Scotland.
It sets out the approach needed over the next five years to protect the safety of foods produced and sold in Scotland, and reduce the risks of foodborne illness to the population.
The deadline for responses (follow this link) is midnight on the 23 August.