A hot, sunny day should be an enjoyable day out for the family with the prospect of a picnic or barbecue but, if people are not careful, the day could be spoilt by food poisoning as food bug
numbers can soar in the heat, says the Food Standards Agency (FSA) today.
During Food Safety Week (11-17 June) the FSA warns that ‘Bugs Like It Hot’, as there is a rise in cases of food poisoning during the summer months.
In 2005 there were estimated to be around 860,000 cases of food poisoning in the UK with a peak in the summer months – just under half of cases due to bugs such as salmonella and campylobacter
occurred during the June to September period.
To combat this trend, the FSA advises the public to keep food cool when eating outside. Just ten invisible bugs in your food can multiply to 1,000 in six hours; 100,000 in less than ten hours;
and to more than a million in 12 hours. And, when it’s very hot, bugs can multiply even faster!
‘Bugs can be prevented from gatecrashing people’s summer parties,’ said Dr Judith Hilton, Head of the FSA’s Microbiological Safety Division. ‘Being stuck in a traffic jam is bad enough – but
unless you keep your food chilled, any bugs in your food will have a party.
‘These bugs can multiply at such a rate, especially in cars while travelling, that they threaten to take over the day! Picnics should be chilled, particularly if stored in the back seat of a
car or in the boot, as they are breeding ‘hot spots’ for bugs.
‘If you keep food cool or chilled, you won’t get such an unpleasant gathering… and there will be less chance of a problem later,’ said Judith.
Top tips from the FSA to day-trippers on keeping food cool on hot, sunny days:
● avoid delays in getting shopping home – if possible, use a cool bag
● if you are taking food for a picnic or day out, put it in a cool bag with some ice bricks or frozen cartons of fruit juice to help keep it cool
● keep the food in the cool bag until you are ready to eat it
● always keep stored food covered and out of the sun
● make sure that raw foods such as meat are kept separately from ready-to-eat foods