Our Campylobacter Survey: Shopping Habits & Awareness

Supermarket Shopping Trolley
Ashley Heywood
Written by Ashley Heywood

To look at the shopping habits of the nation, Addmaster carried out a survey which revealed that seven out of ten people haven’t heard of the potentially deadly bug Campylobacter.

Campylobacter causes more gastro-intestinal illness than any other bug and is sometimes found on the outside of chicken packaging from where it can make its way onto other food. 

Almost 40% of people questioned in the Biomaster survey didn’t know how or from where they caught food poisoning. As Campylobacter has an incubation period of 2-5 days this can mean people often blame the last thing they ate but in reality they could have contracted the sickness bug from eating contaminated food or even simply licking their contaminated fingers several days before. 

With the introduction of the plastic bag tax, people will be tempted to reuse and recycle bags but this could leave them at risk from food poisoning; germs from meat, and poultry packaging and from raw root vegetables could transfer to the bag and when this is reused transfer onto other food items. Equally if people stuff all their foods into one bag, then there is a risk of transfer of bacteria such as Campylobacter directly onto ready-to-eat foods and packages.

One solution is to include the antimicrobial technology, as produced by Addmaster, into the composition of Bags for Life and significantly reduce the risk of contamination. Three quarters of shoppers questioned felt that supermarkets should be doing more to minimise the risk of Campylobacter and this can be done with the aforementioned technology. 

In summary, the key findings of the survey conducted by Addmaster were: 

• Over 70% of UK consumers do not know that Campylobacter is on the outside of chicken packaging sold in UK supermarkets

• 46% of people pack contaminated chicken in the same bag as other foods

• 40% of people who have had food poisoning have no idea where they caught it

• 63% have never heard of Campylobacter

• Over 70% of UK consumers do not know that Campylobacter is on the outside of chicken packaging sold in UK supermarkets

• More than 99% of people didn’t know that Campylobacter takes 4 to 5 days to show food poisoning symptoms 

• 78% think supermarkets should be doing more about the fact Campylobacter can be found on the outside of chicken packaging,

• 54% will now shop differently after learning about Campylobacter. 

• 26% of those surveyed thought it was ok to wash chicken contrary to Food Standards Agency (it can spread germs such as Campylobacter and Salmonella all around the sink area, including hand contact surfaces such as taps).

Top tips for consumers from hygiene expert Dr. Lisa Ackerley 

• Always wash your hands after you arrive home from shopping and after putting away chicken in the fridge

• Don’t graze when shopping – even if you haven’t touched chicken, the person using the trolley or basket before you may have done

• Never feed children while shopping; their hands may also get contaminated from the trolley handle so make sure they wash their hands when they get home

• If you really can’t wait to have something to eat when out and about, then use an anti-bacterial hand gel.

• Take anti-bacterial wipes to wipe trolley handles and hands – especially if you have children sitting in the trolley

• Always keep chicken away from ready-to-eat foods in the fridge and when shopping – you don’t want the bugs going from the raw food to ready-to-eat foods

• Never wash chickens – this spreads bugs all over the sink, taps, hands, surfaces and even directly onto foods.

Dr Lisa Ackerley is a TV expert on commercial food safety. She is Visiting Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Salford and Professorial Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health.  

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