Tag Archives: campylobacter

Chicken campylobacter: really a packaging issue

Happy supermarket shopper
No more getting sick from chicken – problem solved

From the headlines, you’d think we’re all going to die.

There’s this deadly killer bacteria – three-quarters of all chickens have got it – just touch one and you’re dead.

Yeah? So where’s all the corpses outside KFC? It’s the most popular meat in the country, the bodies should be piled in the streets.

Back to reality

Instead of which, there’s all these kids, munching on drumsticks. They look pretty healthy, bouncing round like kids do. Grown-ups looking pretty good too.

Wassup?

Misplaced hysteria is what.

Because campylobacter disappears when chicken is cooked – in the same way that germs are destroyed when you boil water. And who in their right mind eats raw chicken? It’s not sushi!

Yeah but 75% of all birds are infected – you can’t eat diseased food.

Infected, huh?

So why aren’t they sick and dying too? Where’s the world-wide poultry disaster?

Check out the birds. Go see what the truth is, then decide.

Oh sure, there’s the whole thing about they should be free range, not reared in broiler houses – but that’s another issue.

Eyeball the birds for yourself and you’ll see they’re all healthy – the farmer would be out of bizz if they weren’t.

Not sick. No infected. Perfectly normal.

Not infected, naturally colonised

Yeah well, campylobacter occurs naturally in birds. That’s why so many have got it.

Like we have bacteria in our own gut – more than 1,000 different species. They’re supposed to be there too – without them we couldn’t digest anything.

So campylobacter is right for birds, but wrong for us.

OK, so we take care of it before eating. Problem solved. Like deboning a fish, peeling an orange, or taking the pip out of a peach. Not rocket science.

Things is, campylobacter is all over raw chickens – inside and outside. Which is why they say don’t wash it. The contaminated water gets everywhere – on knives and other utensils, on chopping boards – and on your hands.

You see, it’s not the cooked chicken that brings you the vomiting and diarrhoea. It’s the raw chicken water from your unwashed hands getting in your mouth.

Our own bad habits

For sure. Because it’s a fact of life that we touch our faces 3 to 5 times every minute – unconscious reflex. And most of us never bother to wash our hands at any time, not just preparing food. So the stuff goes down our throat and there we are – instant infection.

Right, so how about the hoo-hah that chicken makes your shopping unsafe? Get home with all your stuff, put it away and boom! Nausea, cramps, and the whole toot in just hours.

Yeah, well. The first thing is wash your hands – the best protection against any germs, whatever you’re doing.

The second thing is, check the packaging.

Shrink-wrap, right? No wonder your shopping gets contaminated. Any liquids from that bird are free to leak all over the place – inside your shopping bags, onto your hands, and dripping on everything else inside your fridge.

OK, so first things first.

Always keep chicken separate. In its own bag when you buy it. In its own bag when you bring it home. In its own bag at the bottom of the fridge – so it can’t leak, but if it does, it’s underneath everything else.

Next, wash your hands and everything else, every time you handle it. Except when it’s cooked of course, that’s when it’s safe.

Long term of course, it’s up to the Food Standards Agency.

Instead of running round wringing their hands that chicken farmers aren’t preventing campylobacter getting into their birds, they should be fixing the packaging.

Leak-proof, or else

Vacuum sealed, not shrink-wrapped.

No leaks, no contamination, no problem.

Enforceable by law that they’re empowered to declare.

Not spending millions on technology – boxing smart, round the problem.

Allowing for administrative fumble time, maybe six weeks at the most. And another three months after that for producers to get their compulsory vacuum-sealing machines into place – job done.

Heavy fines and pulled licences otherwise.

And nobody sick with campylobactor anywhere.

Then it should be onto a real food poisoning issue – like scombroid contamination in canned tuna. They’re the Food Standards Agency – get on with it.

And that wraps that up.

Originally posted 2015-09-25 14:42:56.

Yes, we NEED germs – but only in the right place

Girl with glow
With germs, the impossible could be closer than we think

Start with the mirror.

You think that’s you, don’t you?

Well y-e-s, but not entirely.

In fact, far from entirely.

Because our own human body cells are outnumbered by bacteria more than 100 to 1. Every one of them living inside us and actually helping us live. If they weren’t there, we wouldn’t survive.

Not who we think we are

Surprised?

Yeah well, the entire world’s like that. Every living thing is home to whole hosts of bacteria essential to existence. Which makes bacteria way more important than most of us ever think. We’re not infected with them, we’re colonised by them.

So our paranoia about destroying them is most unwise.

Uh huh.

Think again

So how come this blog is called Back Off, Bacteria? Isn’t that about getting rid of microorganisms?

Far from it.

Reality Number One. Bacteria are vitally necessary for every living function.

But not ALL bacteria are appropriate in every situation.

Campylobacter for instance, occurs naturally in poultry – 75% of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and wild birds have it in their gut. Somehow it helps in the digestion of whatever they eat – processing the grit perhaps, or balancing natural sugars.

In humans however, campylobacter is highly pathogenic – the most common cause of food poisoning. In the UK alone, 300,000 people die from it every year.

OK, you can see the connection. Chicken is a highly popular source of cheap protein – so the whole food industry is up in arms about the contamination of our top of the pops menu choice.

Contamination, schm-ontamination.

It occurs naturally in birds, right? It’s SUPPOSED to be there.

So what’s the problem?

Everybody, the Food Safety Agency, producers, supermarkets, chefs, restaurants – all know that if you cook chicken properly, all campylobacter is destroyed. Those wings, drumsticks and nuggets are totally safe to eat.

And again

So, Reality Number Two. Bacteria are only beneficial when they’re in the right place.

Which is why this blog is called Back Off, Bacteria!

Back Off, Bacteria! Get back to where you belong.

There are over 500 microbe types that colonise our gut – bacteriods, peptococci, staphylococci, streptococci, bacilli, clostridia, yeasts, enterobacteria, fuzobacteria, eubacteria, catenobacteria, etc – we don’t need a rogue outsider coming in and upsetting the apple cart.

As long as a bacterium is in the right place, that’s OK.

But the wrong place needs action if you don’t want to sicken and die.

Which is why – first line of defence – you should wash your hands so you don’t ingest some harmful killer bug you can’t see.

And second – you should sterilise your surrounding environment so any other dangerous pathogens can’t invade you any other way.

Out of sight, out of mind

No, it’s not rocket science. But since viruses and bacteria are too small to see, they’re just not on anybody’s radar. Nobody sees any danger, so there isn’t any.

Mistake. The wrong bacterium in the wrong place can kill you as efficiently as any bullet. And just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there – how about cholera, tetanus or TB?

So back to earth. Bacteria are simple, not second-guessing the whole universe all the time like we do.

All they do is eat. And when they can’t find the right food, they eat us – which is what infection is.

They’re also programmed to survive, just like we are. Except they work in minutes and hours, not decades. And they’ve been around for billions of years longer so they’re a hell of a lot better at it.

If one cell dies off, its offspring will carry on. And on, and on, and on – more persistently than we humans ever even get close to.

And you’d better believe it, since they outnumber our own body cells more than 100 to 1, they’re the ones calling the shots, not us.

Who’s the boss?

Think it’s your brain telling the body what to do?

Where do you think we get gut feel from, or the physical symptoms that are triggered by stress?

Butterflies in your tummy? The bacteria are apprehensive, they want to survive. They’re warning you. Don’t do whatever you’re planning to do because there’s danger or unpleasantness ahead.

Yeah, your brain can override them, but at what cost? Acid tummy, shaking muscles, nerves shot to pieces. These guys know which strings to pull – and they do.

Again, Back Off, Bacteria – we’ve got other priorities to satisfy. Like getting through that interview, or proposing to your sweetheart – not all going into combat, or jumping off a cliff.

Magical powers

Bacteria may even have “magic” qualities that makes us think of the supernatural.

As regular readers of this blog will know, bacteria carry a tiny electrical charge positive on the outside, negative on the inside.

It’s this charge that enables negatively-charged ionised hydrogen peroxide molecules to latch onto them only the fly – oxidising them to oblivion in one of the most efficient room sterilising procedures ever.

Researchers have also found that the electrical charge in bacteria like e. coli can actually generate light – creating flashes like Christmas tree lights.

Put that together with the fact that we’re always surrounded by a “bio-cloud” of billions and billions of bacteria all the time – and it’s possible that under the right conditions we really do generate a visible aura.

Better still, as bacteria respond to our changing body conditions, the electrical charge they put out could vary, changing the actual colour of this aura. Maybe not a myth any more, but genuine reality.  All those child prodigies, swamis and spiritual mediums might have been right all along.

So yeah – germs, we need ’em.

Let’s just make sure we keep them in a safe place.

Originally posted 2015-08-19 18:32:28.

Chicken is OK to eat, as long as you’re careful

Girl with chicken
There’s a problem with chicken? I never knew there was a problem with chicken

Well, here we are.

One week on from Food Safety Week – one week on from the 2015 Chicken Challenge – and most of us are still alive. A roll of drumsticks please!

Yep, we’re learning.

Doing the bold thing

Thanks to sterling efforts by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), we’re all making the effort to avoid food poisoning from chicken by:

  • keeping raw chicken separate from other all other food, where it can’t drip or leak on the bottom shelf of the fridge
  • not washing raw chicken or splashing water from it around as this spreads highly contagious campylobacter germs
  • actively washing everything that’s been in contact with raw chicken to remove germs from cutting boards, utensils, and of course hands – all with plenty of soap and hot water
  • ensuring chicken is thoroughly cooked through – no more pink meat and juices running clear

Do all these things and we’re safe from the widespread campylobacter bug – the one that causes more of us to have cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea than any other common tummy germ.

Widespread? Oh yes. It’s the UK’s No 1 cause of tummy upsets.

Most birds, all birds

Hardly surprising as around 75% of all poultry has campylobacter resident in its gut. And we are a nation of chicken-eaters – 2.2 million chickens a week, 803 million chickens a year.

That’s a meal of chicken at least once a month for everyone in the UK.

Which has the FSA breathing fire and brimstone that poultry producers and the supermarkets should be doing something about it. They want birds with campylobacter reduced to zero. 280,000 people a year go ill with campylobacter – and this is the Twenty-First Century for goodness sake!

Other people are in on the act too. Like the consumer heavy who said: “It beggars belief that nearly three-quarters of chickens on sale in supermarkets are still infected with this potentially deadly bug and that no retailers have met the FSA’s target.”

Infected?

Healthy as nature intended

Time to get real. You see, 75% of all poultry has campylobacter because it occurs naturally in birds. Their digestive system is not the same as ours, so the bacterium is benign, non-pathogenic, harmless.

Inhabited, yes, but not infected. All these birds are perfectly healthy.

Robbing them of campylobacter could even do them harm.

Besides, we know the dangers and how to fix them, why point a finger at the poultry farmers?

It’s like locking up cows because they get muddy feet. Well of course they do, they eat grass – and in this green, green, rain-drenched UK of ours, grass gets wet all the time, so mud is inevitable.

But we don’t penalise the cows for muddy feet – just like we don’t penalise chickens for having campylobacter.

We have a defence

Heat through pasteurisation kills the germs in milk – and heat through cooking kills the germs in chickens.

So yes, it’s right to make a fuss, the FSA is right. But not by controlling the birds.

By fixing the packaging.

By protecting us from any leaks or contamination from raw chicken meat, right through to the cooked birds which are harmless.

And yes, right now most packaging is pretty manky. Rack ’em, stack ’em, and pack ’em bargain basement stuff that leaks all over the place – no wonder we come down with the bug.

About the best are cook-in-the-bag prepared recipes. Safe because the chicken and all ingredients are sealed in to make sure the recipe works.

But check out any of the El Cheapo packs of wings and drumsticks – it’s a whole other story.

And if that stuff leaks on your other shopping, on in the fridge when you finally get it home, the family could be in for a really ropey few days.

Time for action

Yeah, so come on FSA – hit those guys hard for better packaging and everybody will be better off.

Until then though, don’t take chances. Keep your chicken in its own separate plastic wrapping away from everything else – and don’t forget to wash your hands. (Tweet this)

Bon appetit!

Originally posted 2015-05-29 22:22:22.

Nobody eats raw chicken, so why the problems?

Girl shrugs shoulders
If all birds have the bug and cooking
kills it, they’re all safe to eat, right?

280,000 problems to be exact.

That’s the number of people who come down with campylobacter in a year – a really yucky stomach upset that makes you super-queasy, gives you the runs, and triggers some of the worst cramps you’ve ever experienced.

UK’s biggest villain

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA ), campylobacter is far and away the UK’s biggest cause of food poisoning. Worse than its nasty friends norovirus, salmonella and e.coli – all horrible bugs that you get from eating something.

That means chicken if you’re unfortunate enough to catch campylobacter. An unpleasant stomach upset that can take you out for three days, even cause paralysis and death.

And the FSA is right to jump up and down about it.

Around 75% of poultry has it – chickens, turkeys, a lot of other animals too. It lives naturally in their gut without harm, probably even helping with digestion – like lactobacillus does in our own systems.

Trouble is, our metabolisms are quite different to chickens. What’s good for you goose is not good for you gander – once campylobacter gets loose in your digestive system, you’re in for a roller-coaster tough time.

Uh huh. So if if 75% of poultry has it, why don’t we crash out with campylobacter all the time?

The heat is on

Because, lucky us, all traces of campylobacter are completely destroyed by cooking. (Tweet this) Once the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear, that chicken is safe to eat for everyone.

Kinda vital when you remember that chicken is one of our least expensive and popular foods – in everything from fast food to posh nosh.

But this campylobacter stuff is a mean player. It’s highly contagious, and just one drop of moisture or juices from a contaminated bird is enough to bring down a whole restaurant.

Which is why the FSA is continually jumping up and down about NOT washing raw chicken. The water you use and the splashes it makes are all contaminated.

So are utensils you might use – chopping boards and work surfaces too – which is why washing them down thoroughly is essential.

Hand hygiene

Your hands too, of course.

We’re none of us as sharp as we should be with hand hygiene, and forgetting to wash probably causes more illnesses throughout the country than anything else. Campylobacter alone costs us around £900 million a year in NHS treatment and lost productivity.

OK, so don’t wash raw chicken. Don’t eat it either. Common sense really. Like don’t eat unshelled seafood or unpeeled fruit – doing that will make you sick too.

Even so, a lot of people keep getting sick – so the FSA also jump up and down about controlling poultry production and why don’t supermarkets insist on only trouble-free birds?

Er, excuse us – totally, utterly wrong.

Blame the packaging

75% of all birds – we’re talking 2.2 million birds a week here. That’s how many we eat – more popular than fish and chips. Chicken tikka masala, right?

Culling that lot and starting again would bankrupt the industry – and push shopping budgets through the roof.

The nation’s Number One popular food suddenly at premium prices – they’ll have your guts for garters, mate!

Much more sense to target the packaging. Easier to control too.

Walk into Aldi, and you’ll see whole chickens have the label DON’T WASH RAW CHICKEN. That’s a good start. Add a warning that it must also be properly cooked and we’re getting somewhere.

But walk into ANY supermarket and just look the packaging. Most of the time, its shrink-wrapped onto a styrene tray, not even vacuum-sealed. Not good, Jim.

Distributed like that, any liquids from the product can leak. Onto others in the refrigerated lorry. Onto others in the display cabinets. Onto others in your fridge at home.

And one drop is all it takes – wow, wow, wow, campylobacter for the whole family.

Not from the chicken, which was properly cooked and enjoyed. But from the splash of liquid that fell onto the fresh tomatoes you had in the vegetable drawer underneath.

A bad dose of that and they’ll have to pump your stomach at A&E.

An un-problem really

Properly cooked, chicken is not a problem – look at KFC.  The same sourced chicken as all other supermarkets in UK, and campylobacter doesn’t happen.

So most birds have campylobacter, get over it.

And even if you could isolate the “clean” ones, how are you going to prevent contamination from others – cull all the robins and sparrows and blackbirds too?

Insist on sealed, leak-proof packaging and the problem goes away.

Nobody eats raw chicken. Period.

Which brings the real problem right back to washing hands and everything you use to prep the food with.

Clean or else

They should make it a law – wash everything properly, or you could die.

Hey, wait a minute, that’s already true!

One chance too many and out we go, feet first.

We have been warned.

Originally posted 2015-05-28 17:01:57.

Why wipe-clean won’t wipe out killer germs

Professional cleaners
A world of difference between clean and safe

Powerful stuff, chlorine bleach.

Strong enough to blow the top of your head off.

“Kills all known germs dead,” as the famous Domestos claim said.

And it does.

If you use it properly.

Take that, horrible germ

Except none of us do.

Because there’s one heck of a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. (Tweet this)

Most of us bung some bleach in a bucket of water with some detergent, grab a cloth and wipe away at everything we see that looks dirty.

Everything we SEE.

But you can’t see germs. They’re too small.

Something like salmonella or campylobacter – easily present in uncooked meat, particularly chicken – are only around 5 microns across. Small enough to fall THROUGH an unglazed earthenware plate.

Both are likely to be found on your chopping boards or kitchen counters – spread around all over the place in any drops of water from washing food  beforehand.

Uh, huh. So doesn’t the Domestos or kitchen surface cleaner get rid of them?

Depends on how you use it.

Wipe clean is not enough

If like most of us, you spray and then wipe, getting rid of all the dirty marks – probably not.

Because strong though the germ-killers you are using might be, they need TIME to work.

Usually 2 minutes or more – what the manufacturers call “dwell” time. And if you’ve already diluted your bleach before you start, you should allow even more – a weaker solution needs longer.

Ah, but we don’t do that most of the time do we?

Bleach is pretty potent, we know it attacks all kinds of surfaces if we leave it. So we tend to wipe it on, then dry it off quick with a paper towel.

Not good, Jim.

The stuff needs time to work, plus it ought to be sluiced off. You don’t want traces of bleach getting on to the food that you’re preparing. You could make your whole household very ill.

Also, if you think about it – your wiping cloth gets less potent the more you use it.

Whoops. That can actually make things worse.

Germ spreaders

Not enough time to kill the germs. And actually TRANSFERRING germs to other surfaces.

Pretty bad, hey?

Now imagine the same in a school or restaurant kitchen – professional catering setups serving to hundreds of people. Get salmonella or campylobacter running loose in that lot and you’ve got big problems.

And those are just two of the viruses or bacteria nasties that could be lurking there. There are billions more possible.

Not just on the counter tops or chopping boards either.

In the cracks between the counter and the splashback. Down the front of cupboards and storage lockers. In the gaps between the cookers and the fridges. In and around the edges of things. Under the sink and table surfaces. On the walls, on the floors. The ceiling too.

Oh yeah, and in the air too. Where most of them are. Around 80% of the room space. Where your wiping cloth won’t reach.

Hungry pathogens, hanging around everywhere.

If there’s food around, bacteria will go for it. Not as nice as a warm human body, but stick around, somebody might get careless. There’s plenty to eat in a missed grease spot or gravy spill. So it’s only a matter of time.

Which is how – even in kitchen of the best restaurant in the world – germs can breed and multiply, eventually triggering multiple infections with everyone wondering why.

Safe, secure, sterile

Far better to treat cleaning and disinfecting as separate jobs – and doing both properly.

Cleaning, by eye as usual, is good enough to start.

Followed up by disinfecting every single surface and the air itself. Or even better, sterilising everything.

Impossible, right? It would take an age to wipe all those surfaces, if you could get to them all.

But that’s exactly what a Hypersteriliser does.

Without touching anything – no transfer from one place to another – it mists up an ionised cloud of hydrogen peroxide that spreads everywhere throughout a room and oxidises “all germs dead” in around 40 minutes.

Safer than bleach? You bet, your own body produces hydrogen peroxide to kill infection whenever you get a cut or skin puncture. Oh, and when it’s done killing germs, it reverts back to harmless oxygen and water.

Just get out of the room while it’s working, it can make your eyes and throat a little uncomfortable.

Spreads everywhere?

Forced diffusion

More like a power dispersal.

Because it’s not just hydrogen peroxide mist. Ionising it turns it into a plasma, a kind of super-gas.

In the nozzle of the Hypersteriliser machine, ultra-fine molecules of hydrogen peroxide are charged by high voltage electricity. Each with the same negative charge, they are naturally – and aggressively – repelled from each other. Remember magnets at school?

Spreading as far away as they can get, they fill the room quickly, forcing themselves hard up against everything they touch – and underneath, on top, behind – everywhere they can get. Deep into cracks and crevices too – actively trying to escape from each other.

Bad news for cells of viruses and bacteria, lurking on surfaces or floating in the air. Remember magnets again?

With an opposite positive charge, the hydrogen peroxide molecules are violently attracted to them. They reach out and grab hold, welding themselves together – which causes extra oxygen atoms to be released, ripping into the viruses’ and bacteria’s DNA, destroying their cell structure, making them dead.

Effortless, easy

And all without lifting a finger.

No grunt work, scrubbing and wiping. No overpowering smells. No germs anywhere.

The whole place is sterile.

So now you know wipe-down doesn’t always work, how long are you going to keep doing it the old way?

 

Originally posted 2015-05-05 11:59:44.

Camp chicken, ooh – the runs that could kill you

Girl with tummy cramps
You wash your hands,
you wash the chicken for
dinner, why is this happening?

You don’t want to play with this one.

It’s our No 1 cause of food poisoning and you get it from bacteria in raw chicken.

“Campylobacter” is not easy to say.

It’s not easy to stomach either. A week of cramps and diarrhoea are the norm – you can even die from it.

And it’s so potent, ONE DROP of water or juice from a raw chicken is enough to infect someone.

Hurry up and wait

Thing is, nobody’s doing anything about it – basically just running round like chickens with their heads chopped off.

Banging the drum are the Food Standards Agency, who quite rightly alert us to how dangerous campylobacter is and the dangers of handling raw chicken. Their tips and hints for playing safe are first-class and should keep anyone out of trouble.

At the same time they are blaming the supermarkets, moaning that the big chains are doing little or nothing to stop campylobacter occurring in the product they sell.

Uh huh. A hello birdie moment for the FSA, because realistically there’s not a lot supermarkets can do to pressure their suppliers.

Because there’s not much the growers can do either.

Natural in birds

The facts of life are that the campylobacter bacterium is NOT pathogenic in birds. It lives in them quite naturally and they are not affected. It’s a normal condition, like human beings have dandruff.

Which means around 70% of all commercially reared chickens are probably positive for it – enough to bankrupt the industry if forced to destroy them.

Besides, imagine the problems of isolating a flock of unaffected birds.

Tighten up biosecurity, yes. But one drop of moisture – one waft of wind-borne campylobacter molecules – would be enough to contaminate the whole lot. A near impossible task to an industry that has to supply up to 2.2 million birds a week.

Stop campylobacter in chickens?

Get real.

If such a major chunk of birds are affected, the FSA should either ban them outright or wish for the moon.

The real issue

Because for safety’s sake, it has to be assumed that ALL birds have it.

A total switcheroo on the problem.

Because then, it’s not the breeding of birds that’s the issue.

It’s the hygiene standards of how they’re prepared for market. Exactly where the FSA has the high ground and the muscle.

So why aren’t THEY doing something about it?

Step one would be to enforce that chicken may only be distributed in leak-proof packaging. Any fluid or moisture in the product would be contained and unable to contaminate fridges or storage areas in the supply chain.

Step two is for the FSA warnings to get some teeth. Boldly displayed on all chicken packaging, together with advice about handling raw product, avoiding exposure, and the hazards of cross-contamination.

If we’re that worried about it, the technology probably even exists for a low-cost audio-tag to sound a buzzer or recorded voice warning as soon as the packaging is opened. On a volume of 2.2 million chickens a week, it is certainly possible to develop one.

A solvable problem

And there you have it, campylobacter contained.

Properly warned, the public will know how to handle chicken properly and the problem goes away.

Nobody gets hammered, everybody’s happy, and tummy cramps from barbecuing drumsticks just don’t happen.

Come on FSA, how about it?

Originally posted 2015-04-27 12:21:44.

Campylobacter: playing chicken with your health

Girl with tummy ache
Forget to wash your hands and you’ll soon know all about it

Nasty, this one.

And one of the main causes of stomach upsets everywhere.

Cramps, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting. You need it like a hole in the head.

Which anyone who catches it probably has, because you get it by being forgetful.

Seriously, yes.

Not always supermarkets

Because you can blame it on the supermarkets, or the poultry farmers who supply them – but ultimately, it’s your own fault. The same as not washing your hands before handling food – carelessness that can make you very ill.

You see, it’s a fact of life that campylobacter lives naturally in the intestines of healthy birds.

Because of that, it’s also found in water, food, soil, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the faeces of these birds or other animals.

It’s highly contagious, so you can get it from other humans too.

Which means not washing your hands explains the hole in your head.

Campylobacter is not a thing to take chances with.

And since it occurs naturally, it’s up to you to take the necessary precautions. (Tweet this)

Safe if you’re careful

Because as long as you’re careful, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy chicken, turkey or any other kind of poultry. As an affordable source of protein, it’s tasty, easy to prepare, liked by almost everyone and pretty well unbeatable.

First off, it’s safest to assume though that campylobacter is always possible, even likely. So if you have to handle raw poultry at all, ALWAYS wash your hands.

That applies to anything it comes in contact with too – knives, chopping boards, counter-tops. While it’s still raw, it contaminates everything.

It pays to keep it separate from other foods you’re preparing too. Cross-contamination before you’ve cooked anything is all too easy.

Once you’ve cooked things of course, the problem goes away. Just make sure it’s grilled, roasted, boiled, stewed or fried enough to make sure any bacteria cannot survive. Heat kills it, so under-done meat is a hazard.

That said, there IS an onus on the poultry farmer to lessen the risk.

Since campylobacter occurs naturally in healthy birds, removing any risk before sales happen must be part of the cost of doing business.

There are already costs in preparing product for market – often right through to customer-ready finished packaging – so ensuring output is safe to eat lies squarely with the producer.

But supermarkets must accept responsibility too – part of due diligence to ensure ALL foodstuffs conform to regulations and are risk free.

Quality control

Besides, who buys any product without checking it, especially five tons of it at a time?

In fact, knowing that campylobacter is an issue right from the beginning of the supply chain, the food industry and the government should probably have some kind of certification that the product has been officially inspected and is campylobacter-free.

Government, yeah.

As if.

So far they’ve got to the strategy workshop. Expect official action within the next ten years or so.

Either that, or the supermarkets should voluntarily take it on themselves.

What home-maker would not be reassured by a sticker on her purchase that the product has passed all health tests and is guaranteed free from all bacteria? Tesco Product Integrity Checked. Worth paying a little extra for, right?

Which makes it one of those where you pay a little more because you know the quality is better. All supermarkets are price-sensitive, but quality issues are the game-changer.

Safety begins at home

All of which should be in ADDITION to your normal health precautions:

  • Don’t handle raw product
  • Wash your hands if you do
  • Wash all utensils and prep areas
  • Keep poultry separate from other foods
  • Never eat it unless it’s properly cooked

It’s keeping healthy by avoiding germs – the best possible way.

You don’t want to be bent double on the loo, or in hospital with dehydration.

Not playing chicken at all.

And weren’t you brought up never to play with your food?

Originally posted 2015-03-26 13:24:48.

Killer viruses: get yourself some protection

Eye make up
You do it every day
and it could be utterly deadly

Blink and you might miss it.

Tucked away amongst today’s latest is a nifty device to sterilise make-up brushes . A few minutes and no more bacteria.

Never thought of it before?

Right in your face

Actually make-up brushes are a major source of possible infection – especially in salons, used on multiple clients. That unexpected rash or worse started right in front of the mirror.

With use, make-up oil and dirt build up on your brushes, trapping all kinds of bacteria that spread over your face. Sure, you notice that they get dirty, so from time to time you probably wash them.

Because they take ages to dry, more bacteria develops within the hairs, making things worse not better. You use the brush again, close to your mouth, eyes and nose, all passages that viruses and bacteria exploit to invade your body. Next thing, rhinovirus or goodness knows what.

Ultra violet magic

So this latest Brush Medic gadget takes care of it – basically a mini vanity-slab-top drying cabinet with a UV generator built in. The ultra violet light irradiates the brushes, killing viruses and bacteria by destroying their DNA. Next time you use your brush, it’s sterilised safe.

Uh huh.

That takes care of your face, but what about the rest of you? And how about where you live – the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom? If germs can build up on your face, aren’t they everywhere?

All around, and inside you

If you could see them, you might be terrified. Because billions and billions of them surround us every day. We’re not aware of them because they’re too small to notice – smaller than the smallest grain of dust. And every one of us pulls around an aura of 3 million or so, every single second.

So why aren’t you sick?

Well one microbe by itself can’t do very much, your body’s protection system is way to clever. Your skin for instance has an acid mantle, that’s why its pH balance is so important. A single germ lands on you and it’s quickly history.

But not when they gang up on you, like in spray from a sneeze. And not when they find a way into your body through a cut or something you eat. They can even get in through your eye if you rub it, exposing the sensitive moist part.

Ah, but this Brush Medic doohickey has started something with its UV generator. Ultra violet light gets used everywhere to kill germs. Those brave medics who’ve gone to Africa to fight the Ebola disease go through a UV tunnel every day before work.

Beyond your face

Closer to home, you can get a handheld UV sanitising wand you can wave around, zapping germs as it goes. It’s fine for a once-over, like a spray of aerosol Dettol. Sanitising, not sterilising – bringing the risk down to one germ in a hundred.

The medical jobbies have way more firepower, using pulsed xenon to generate shortwave ultra violet – so potent that people using it have to keep clear. Real sterilising power down to one germ in a hundred thousand.

But like we said, germs are everywhere. And you can’t go humping a great ultra violet unit on castors with you everywhere you go. Like what happens where a lot of people get together in the same place? Restaurants, offices, schools, wherever.

Well in most places, nothing – as you probably know. People don’t think of germs, so they don’t do anything about them.

Not so wise when you think about what they do to you.

Medicine-resistant germs

Yes, you can get sick and possibly die. But don’t count on your doctor to rescue you. Right now the whole medical profession is in a flat spin because germs are becoming resistant to antibiotics. You don’t get better because your medicines won’t work.

Ah, but that’s why the make-up brush gadget is so good. It stops you getting infections before they start. And if the medicines don’t work, prevention is better than cure.

Grown-up hair bleach

Which is where another super germ-fighter comes into play – one you’re going to start seeing often. It’s a wheelie-bin sized auto-robot that mists up enclosed spaces with an ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide spray. Yes, the same hydrogen peroxide that whitens teeth and bleaches hair.

That fine spray is ionised so it reaches everywhere – up, under, around, inside. With a static charge that grabs at viruses and bacteria like a magnetic snatch. At the same moment, it releases oxygen atoms, oxidising the germs so it rips their cells to shreds. Serious sterilising down to one germ in a million.

All you do is close the windows and doors, press the button and get out. Twenty minutes later the place is sterile. The restaurant kitchen, the school toilets, the hotel room, the tanning salon, the fish and chip shop.

Worth keeping an eye on when you read about campylobacter, or norovirus, or whatever else is doing the rounds.

Gems are never safe, but you can be.

Originally posted 2014-11-27 14:21:35.

Prepped for Ebola, wide open to MRSA

Disaster Man
Ebola in your home –
unlikely to happen yet,
or any time soon

Call it dumb luck. Call it misdirected. A growing number of “preppers” are making ready for an Ebola pandemic, but leaving themselves wide open to all kinds of other misfortunes.

“Preppers” are serious people, convinced they need to prepare for a dystopic future. “Ebola has broken out in the UK, there’s rioting in the streets and food is scarce” suggests the scenario of a background report on Sky News.

Ready for “What If”

Assuming the worst is going to happen, one “prepped” contingency is to be equipped with a gas mask and hazmat suit in anticipation of a pandemic. All manner of iron rations and emergency equipment are also at the ready – to be keep preppers as safe as possible.

The hazmat suit is a security blanket – but with every single one of us surrounded by upwards of 3 million assorted viruses and bacteria at any one time, not likely to offer much protection if hygiene levels are not equally secure.

Coping with poo

The preppers quite rightly imagine doom and gloom, but stop short of practical calamities that are likely to hit us as well. Like no electricity, no water, no sewage or waste disposal. A whole catastrophe of germ-generating situations just as deadly as Ebola, or worse.

Because Ebola, apart from being three thousand miles away, is hard to catch. So far it is not transmitted through the air, or by water, and cannot be contracted from someone not already sick.

But just imagine what happens in your household drain if the poo doesn’t go away. And how you’re going to sort it if there’s no way to wash your hands.

Which means it’s not just Ebola that preppers should worry about. It’s all the usual suspects – MRSA, campylobacter, norovirus, c. difficile, AIDS/HIV, e. coli, bird flu, salmonella and all the other nasties.

A hazmat suit is too little too late – after the event, not before.

Prevention, not cure

Because the name of game with any infection is prevention, not cure. Once something is in your body, it’s up to your Doc and luck.

There is of course a way out, assuming the preppers are thorough enough. A standby generator for electricity would be pretty basic – but vital if defence against germs is to be seriously addressed.

With power on hand, they could run an auto-robot to spray their quarters with hydrogen peroxide. The ultra-fine mist would reach everywhere, oxidising viruses and bacteria so that their cell structure was ripped apart.

Bye bye Ebola

And not just some of them either – there’s no pathogen yet that can survive being oxidised. Bye bye Ebola and all the others as well – before they even get anywhere near a vulnerable human body.

Of course we don’t have to wait for disaster to sterilise our surroundings. We can do it now, in twenty minutes, with exactly the same machine.

Just plug it it, hit the button – and whoosh, you’re safe.

As for Ebola – the preppers might have a point. But right now it’s as likely as a Number 9 bus being on time before the rain comes down.

Better not take any chances though.

Originally posted 2014-11-10 13:20:23.

Watch out! Your car could be killing you!

Woman slumped at wheel
There’s more dangers lurking IN our cars than we ever think

It can happen any time, or any place.  You’re just sitting in your car, parked up and going nowhere,  then foops – you’re on your way to being a goner.

No, no, not an accident. Though you never intended this to occur.

You’re just sitting there, engine off and handbrake on, maybe waiting at the school gate.

Unwanted passengers

But you’re not alone.

You can’t see them, but there’s upwards of 300 million germs sharing the car with you. And while you’re waiting, chatting on the phone and nibbling an indulgent pastry, you just happen to swallow a few hundred in.

You don’t feel it at the time of course. There’s no trace of anything wrong anyway. You keep the car spotless, down to the car wash every week. And those cheery folk do a full valet service – get rid of any rubbish, vacuum everything carefully. How in the world can you catch a bug?

All too easy, though you’d never know it.

Because a car is one of those places that easily LOOK clean when they’re anything but.

OK, so it’s you and the kids on the school run, taking the dog to the park, a couple of long hauls to visit the in-laws, where’s the danger in that?

Crumbs, germs, crikey!

Eating and drinking is what. And we all do it, without even realising.

Obviously not while driving. Though everyone is. A quick munch on the way home, a bottle of juice on a hot summer day – those little ones can be so demanding.

Which means crumbs on the seats and the odd spill – nothing that a quick wipe can’t fix, right?

Wrong.

However thoroughly you wipe, you never get everything. And stuff fragments as you try, breaking apart and falling down the sides. Into the “ungetatable” space between the seats and the floor sides.

And it’s usually food, right? So it breaks down and rots. Little bits here and there – nothing you’ll ever pick up unless you have a sensitive nose.

Bugs, bugs, bugs

Bacteria, right there – usually escherichia coli. Harmless to most of us, even though it lives naturally in our gut. Except there’s more than one strain of the thing, many of them pathogenic – medic-speak for saying they’re dangerous.

Like strain O157:H7, which can cause anaemia, kidney failure or even death. Plus, get ANY strain of e.coli in the wrong place – like in your bloodstream – and you’re in big trouble.

But e.coli is not the only one by a long shot. Salmonella and campylobacter are also regular passengers, both of which can cause illnesses, sometimes fatal. And both can survive for up a month inside your car, lurking on the steering wheel, gear stick, or dashboard.

And pretty well all cars regularly carry common bacteria, such as staphylococcus epidermidis, staphylococcus aureus and micrococcus luteus.

Mould and fungi too

Nor is bacteria the only hazard. Comes the wet weather with kids and dogs leaping in and out of the car dripping wet – next thing you’ve got mould. And mould leads to allergies, asthma and eczema.  Or in severe cases, like actress Brittany Murphy, fatal pneumonia.

OK, so basically germ-infested, right? And if you don’t believe us, check out this video here.

Recognise yourself?

So what can you do about it? Wiping down is not good enough. Nor is going berserk with the vacuum cleaner. You’ve got to get down and dirty in those teensy inaccessible gaps behind the seats and under the carpets.

And with way more firepower than bleach.

“Bacteria bomb”

Time to get yourself a “bacteria bomb” if you haven’t already. Not the ordinary can, but the half-sized 4oz job you can keep in your hand bag.

Capped 4 oz can
Self protection on the go – like MACE for germs

Yeah, OK, at around £12 a pop, it’s not cheap. But do you want to get rid of the germs or don’t you? And what does a whole valet service cost you? £50? £80? Right there in your bag is just the thing to fog up your entire car and take out the germs. Psst! 60 seconds and you’re done.

Just make sure you open all the windows and let the stuff out when it’s finished. It fills your car up like a smoke bomb but is way fresher, sort of lemony afterwards.

Oh, and that’s not the only reason to open up your car. Like with all these climate change non-winters we’ve been having, high temperatures bake your car full of breathable toxins too. Like benzene from the plastic of the dash and interior trim. Check out this video here.

Every week, like the car wash

Plus remember, if you want to stay safe and germ-free, you’ve got to keep at it too. Just like cleaning your teeth only lasts until your next meal, so treating your car needs regular attention too. The next Coke spill or upended packet of chips and you’re back where you started.

Think of it though as another way to keep you safe in your car. Like a crash helmet or a seat belt. Essential, huh?

Picture Copyright: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo