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Food poisoning hazards from chicken detected in minutes

15 December 2014

The Food Standards Agency has highlighted the risk of Campylobacter food poisoning from raw chicken and made several recommendations for reducing the hazards associated with cross contamination.

To help eradicate this risk, Hygiena International have introduced the CrossCheck rapid test system which can be used by anyone and anywhere, with results provided in minutes. Detecting pathogens such as Campylobacter is a difficult, skilled and expensive process giving results after several days. The new CrossCheck simple rapid test specifically measures the presence of raw meat and fish residues giving results in 2 - 5 minutes. If raw meat residues are detected in areas where they should not be then there is a potential risk of food poisoning.

Research shows that Campylobacter is found in food production environments and even on the outside of food packaging. It is spread by cross contamination from raw chicken juice that also helps the bacteria to survive on surfaces. Careful handling and preparation of raw meat and poultry together with high standards of cleaning and hygiene are required to minimise the risk of food poisoning in all food preparation facilities.

CrossCheck is an integrated, self-contained test device that includes a swab for sample collection after which the test is activated with a simple snap and squeeze action. This releases the test reagent into the lower part of the device where it mixes with the sample. The result is generated after 2 – 5 minutes and is measured in a small hand-held instrument (EnSURE) to produce a numerical result in a patented light emitting reaction. The higher the output then the greater the amount of raw meat detected and the greater the potential risk from associated pathogens. 

CrossCheck specifically measures an enzyme that is present in raw meat and fish. It is not a test for specific bacteria. CrossCheck is a simple rapid method to measure the hygienic status of surfaces to assess the hazards associated with cross contamination. The enzyme measured is destroyed by cooking such that CrossCheck can also be used on finished product to verify cooking processes. 

A negative result from CrossCheck means that raw meat residues were not detected and that the risks are low. However a positive result indicates the presence of a potential hazard and the higher the results then the greater the risk from associated hazards including pathogens such Campylobacter and Salmonella.

CrossCheck is one of a number of different tests that can all be run on the EnSURE instrument to measure aspects of hygiene and food safety. UltraSnap and SuperSnap measure a broad spectrum of food residues giving a non-specific simple and highly sensitive cleaning verification test. AquaSnap measures contamination in water samples. MicroSnap specifically measures bacteria including Entero’s, Coliforms and E. Coli, giving results in a working shift of <8 hours. ZymoSnap measures process indicators in dairy products.

Raw chicken is responsible for the highest number of food poisoning incidents in the UK resulting in a large amount of illness and cost to the nation. It is estimated that 22 million working days are lost due to food poisoning whilst treating the related illness costs the NHS and businesses £750 million per year. The causative agent is a bacterium called Campylobacter which is present in >60% of all supermarket chicken and has also been found on the outside of packaging. It affects >500,000 people each year of which 100 sufferers have died.  Salmonella is also present in raw chicken and both Salmonella and Campylobacter are developing resistance to antibiotics.

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