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EDITIONS
Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
Britons 'do not complain' over hygiene
People will complain about undercooked chicken
People will complain about undercooked chicken
Most people do wash their hands after going to the toilet, but are reluctant to remind others to do the same.

The Food and Drink Federation, an industry body, surveyed over 1,500 children and adults for the survey to mark foodlink National Food Safety Week.

There are up to 4.5m cases of food poisoning in the UK each year, and it is estimated many are caused by dirty hands on which germs can remain alive for up to three hours.


Who would want to eat a salad that had been fingered by someone who has just been to the toilet

Professor Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen University
Most adults, 88%, always wash their hands after going to the toilet - 12% more than in last year's survey, with women far more likely to do so than men.

But a quarter of girls and almost half of boys aged seven to14, said they did not always wash their hands after going to the toilet.

The survey found just one in 10 will remind someone to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, with women more likely to say something than men.

Just a third of children aged seven to 14 would speak up if someone that knew did not wash their hands.

Under a third of children always wash their hands before eating food, compared to half of adults.

Under-cooked meat

And just a third of seven to 14-year-olds wash their hands every time they touch pets.

The survey also found nine out of 10 people would complain if they were served undercooked chicken in a restaurant or by their partner, but only three quarters would speak up if their mother-in-law was cooking, or at a business lunch.

Eating undercooked poultry, burgers or sausages is also a major source of food-poisoning.

Other survey findings included:-

  • 5% of people always use food past its use-by date
  • Half do not always use separate chopping boards for preparing raw and cooked meat or vegetables
  • A third do not store their food in the fridge within 2 hours of buying it

Martin Paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation said: "This survey highlights some encouraging trends, especially that the simple message of washing hands is hitting home with adults.

"But there is still much work to be done, especially with children.

"We in industry, as well as government, education and others must work harder with adult consumers to help them pass on the key food safety messages they have clearly taken on board."

'Ineffectual'

Hugh Pennington, professor of microbiology at Aberdeen University said: "Common sense tells us that hand washing is important.

"Who would want to eat a salad that had been fingered by someone who has just been to the toilet?

"Its importance is backed up to the hilt by research but we are very bad at complaining if we see someone not bothering, and we are just as ineffectual when it comes to persuading children to do it.

"Nearly one in 10 of us will get food poisoning in the next year. If we all washed our hands when we should, this proportion would reduce massively overnight."

A Food Standards Agency spokesperson said the survey underlined how simple acts such as washing hands, both in the home and in the food business can be crucial in reducing cases of food poisoning.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"Taking care over how food is handled and prepared makes all the difference"
See also:

11 Jun 01 | Health
04 Feb 01 | Health
17 Oct 01 | Business
02 Oct 98 | UK
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