Hungry for Science Blog
The Food Standards Agency uses their ‘Hungry for Science blog’ to inform consumers about a wide variety of food safety and health issues. Chief Scientist Andrew Wadge regularly posts in the Hungry for Science blog. Below are examples of 2 blog posts written by Andrew Wadge.
Post 1: Don't Splash out on a Turkey
Both Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. are examples of bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract of animals and are capable of causing disease. Data show that campylobacteriosis (the illness caused by Campylobacter spp.) and salmonellosis (the illness caused by Salmonella spp.) were the two most commonly reported zoonoses (diseases and/or infections that are transmissible between animals and humans) in the EU in 2011. A total of 220,209 confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis and 95,548 confirmed cases of salmonellosis were reported (for more information click here). In both cases, the severity of illness varies from mild symptoms to life-threatening conditions.
Both bacteria, i.e. Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. can be transmitted directly from infected animals to humans as well as between humans; however, the consumption of contaminated food is a significant route of transmission. Poultry is regarded as one of the most important reservoirs for both types of bacteria and constitutes a very significant vehicle for its transmission to humans. Direct transmission can occur through poor handling techniques or ingestion of meat which has not been thoroughly cooked.
Every effort must therefore be taken by everyone along the food chain to prevent the spread of these bacteria and to minimise infection. To do this the food industry adopts Good Hygiene Practices and implements a food safety management system based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles (for more information click here). However, consumers must also play their part, e.g. adoption of good hygiene practices to prevent cross contamination and good temperature control during cooking and refrigeration.
Regarding poultry, specific care must be taken during handling and preparation. This blog 'Don't Splash out on a Turkey' was written by Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist in the UK Food Standards Agency to inform consumers about the importance of good handling practices when preparing a turkey.
"If you wash your turkey under a tap, bacteria already present on the meat can be splashed up to where the meat is washed. They may easily spread to other ready-to-eat foods that you will not be cooking again. It’s one of the reasons why the FSA recommends that you shouldn’t wash your Christmas turkey before cooking it."
What makes this a good post?
1. Timely blog topic- article on Turkey posted in run up to Christmas.
2. Further information- the post was also used to direct readers to Christmas cooking tips on the Christmas campaign section of the FSA website and their advent calendar.
Post 2: Chinese Milk
In China, adulteration of milk with the chemical melamine was discovered in 2008. The milk was initially diluted with water to increase its volume; however, this also lowered its protein content. Companies using the milk for further production (e.g. for powdered infant formula) normally check the nitrogen content and thereby the protein content of the milk. The addition of melamine increases the nitrogen content of the milk and therefore its apparent protein content.
Addition of melamine in food is not approved by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, or by any national authorities. Adverse health impacts are based on animal studies and include the formation of bladder stones and the formation of small crystals in the kidney to potential stop the production of urine. Kidney failure may also occur.
For further information on melamine click here.
This blog 'Chinese Milk’ was written by Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist in the UK Food Standards Agency to highlight the scale of the problem and to highlight differences in the regulation of the food industry in China and Europe. He highlights that in Europe strict regulations and food standards, place legal responsibilities on businesses to supply safe food.
“I spoke about the regulation of the food industry on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday. Of course it would be naive to assume that criminals will not attempt to target the food industry here. However, there are, fortunately, big differences between China and the UK and in many ways what is currently happening in China mirrors what we saw in the UK 150 years ago, when adulteration and poisoning from food was commonplace.”
What makes this a good post?
- Compelling content- Transferring personal knowledge, ideas and experiences on this topic, to the readers.
- Sparked Discussion- engaged the readers and generated conversation. Read the post comments here.