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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 17:22 GMT
Food campaign's catering crackdown
chip shop
Consumers are worried about food poisoning
Food safety experts in Wales have begun a campaign to improve the knowledge of basic hygiene rules in the catering industry.

Figures show up to one person in seven in Wales has been victim of food poisoning in the past year with 80% blaming their illness on eating out.

The issue is estimated to cost the welsh economy up to 17m each year.

Food Safety advice
Keep hands clean
Avoid cross-contaminating foods
Chill food properly
Cook food properly

An advert targeted at people who work in the catering industry is aimed at reminding cooks of basic hygiene such as hand washing which is sometimes overlooked.

Food Standards Agency Wales launched its food hygiene campaign after a survey revealed a substantial increase in concern over food poisoning and hygiene standards.

The results, contained in a second annual survey from the Food Standards Agency, show that last year 14% of Welsh consumers said they believed they were poisoned by something they ate, a rise of 3% on 2000.

Four in five of those said they thought the cause of their illness was eating out and almost half said concerns about hygiene had crossed their mind.

The agency said that while the majority of restaurants and cafes strive to achieve best practice, it plans to extend its education campaign to the home as everyone has a part to play in reducing food poisoning.

Chef cutting meat
An advert shows how contamination is spread

It is taking part in a 20m UK-wide campaign whose first phase will tackle poor hygiene in catering businesses such as restaurants, cafes, pubs, takeaways and fast food outlets.

It will begin with sick bags being sent to hundreds of restaurants, cafes and takeaways across Wales.

The sick bags will be printed with the words 'for safer food and better business - food safety, it's in your hands'.

The association says the bags are a graphic indicator of what can be needed if businesses do not take food hygiene seriously.

But the Restaurant Association (RA) has branded the FSA's marketing campaign as being offensive and in bad taste.

Grotesque waste

RA chief executive Ian McKerracher said he was furious to discover some of his members had received sick bags from the agency.

He said: "Food safety issues are too important to trivialise in this way.

"The FSA should be working with the industry to gain co-operation on this issue, not insulting us.

"It seems a grotesque waste of taxpayers money and a serious error of judgement."

Television, radio and print advertising will target catering industry employees, and information packs are also being sent out to businesses.

Food Standards Agency's Joy Whinney
"People think food poisoning isn't serious but it can kill."
See also:

06 Feb 02 | Health
Tainted food clampdown call
04 Feb 01 | Health
Fears over food poisoning
11 Jun 01 | Health
Dirty hands 'poison thousands'
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