March 5, 2009

UK: One in 20 kebabs contains food poisoning bugs - from salads and sauces

Source of Article:


One in 20 of all salads and sauces on sale at kebab takeaways contained food poisoning bugs according to an investigation by the Health Protection Agency and council enforcement officers.

Cucumber was the most contaminated salad product but bacteria that can be harmful to human health such as e.coli and salmonella were also found in lettuce, cabbage, onions and tomatoes.

Chilli sauce was found more likely to contain sickness bugs than yoghurt or garlic sauces which are often served with kebabs.

The study was conducted after 739 cases of food poisoning were linked to eating kebabs from takeways and restaurants in the 15 years between 1992 and 2007. Some 94 people were so ill they were admitted to hospital.

Food poisoning is normally linked to sickness and diarrhoea but can be fatal in the very young, the elderly or those being treated for serious medical conditions.

Samples were taken from 1,277 kebab shops in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in June and July 2007.

Dr Jim McLauchlin, director of the agency’s food, water and environmental services, said the vast majority of takeaways followed good hygiene practices.

However he said it was “concerning” that standards in 5 per cent of premises were unsatisfactory or unacceptable.

An unacceptable rating means the food is not fit for human consumption whereas unsatisfactory suggests inadequate hygiene standards.

He said: “The results emphasise that good hygiene practices and high standards of cleanliness must be maintained across the board at all times to prevent food from being contaminated.

“No food items should be overlooked. Businesses should also ensure that all members of staff are fully trained in food hygiene practices.”

There have been 13 food poisoning outbreaks in England and Wales linked to kebab takeaways. Previous studies have shown that kebab meat has been of good microbiological quality.

The latest study however suggests the problems may have triggered by salads or sauces.

The Health Protection Agency advises that open foods such as salad vegetables and sauces can become contaminated if food is not covered, stored at the right temperature or away from contact with contaminated containers, equipment and utensils, hands, aerosols, cleaning cloths and pests.



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