Hygiene Food Safety
Newsletter October 2018

We've written and published some fantastic articles on our website during the last month. If you've missed them Catch up on our latest articles on below.

Chicken has come out as the most unsafe food to eat

According to a recent report from the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and prevention). Chicken has come out as the most unsafe food and most common culprit for food-related illnesses from 2009 through 2015.

Chicken was involved in over 3 100 serious cases over this period.

It is any surprise that this is the case? 8 Billion chickens are consumed in the US each year.  In comparison to other meats, chickens are considered the dirtiest of all the livestock animals. No not pigs.

Virtually every single food-related bacteria, virus and parasite are present in chickens. This is very likely because of the living conditions of these birds, as well as the slaughtering process.


Food Safety By The Numbers

Salmonella is the bacteria that is reported as the most common food poisoning bacteria with over 23 000 reported illnesses. Noroviruses take the lead with over 27 000 cases. And the Cyclospora parasite with 400 report cases. Bear in mind that this data predates the Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa and the Cyclospora outbreak happening in the US in 2018.

The foods most responsible for food poisoning are :

  1. Chicken
  2. Seeded Vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers)
  3. Pork
  4. Eggs
  5. Fish
  6. Fruits
  7. Dairy

Quick facts about Salmonella

Salmonella are a type of bacteria that are one of the most common food poisoning bacteria (Salmonellosis). And are one of the most well known names of bacteria. S.enteritis causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever. Known as Salmonellosis. Which cause the classic symptoms of  food poisoning. They can develop within 12 hours up to 3 days and can even last up to 1 week. Most patients that are hospitalised are due to severe dehydration, because of the above symptoms.

The Below table shows the top 10 bacterial pathogens involved with food poisoning. 

Organism Illnesses per year Deaths per year (%)
Salmonella 23,662 20
Escherichia coli 2,378 9
Campylobacter 2,095 1
Clostridium perfringens 5,132 3
Staphylococcus aureus 1,255 0
Bacillus cereus 551 0
Vibrio parahaemolyticus 227 0
Shigella 1,193 1
Listeria monocytogenes 380 52
Clostridium botulinum 85 3
Is My Kitchen Food Safe?
Is My Kitchen Food Safe?
Is My Kitchen Food Safe? is a quick guide to measure how food safe your kitchen is. This guide gives you a break down of the key areas in food safety. Covering areas such as cleaning, hand hygiene, temperatures of foods, best storage practises and how to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen. This guide is a “ready at hand” book that allows quick access to each area in food safety.

So although Salmonella, have caused the most number of illnesses, Listeria monocytogenes is by far the most lethal, killing 52% of patients.

Chicken has been known to have at least 7/10 of the above bacteria truly making it the most unsafe food.

Quick facts about Listeria

Listeria are a naturally occurring bacteria, that live generally harmlessly in the soil, water and natural environment. However, Listeria do have a species that is dangerous to our health, known as Listeria monocytogenes. 

Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive, rod shaped bacterium, and are most infamous for surviving and even growing well in refrigeration temperature ranges. This bacterium affects foods such as raw chicken, dairy, processed (deli) meats as well as smoked seafood. This bacteria can also survive in oxygen poor conditions, meaning even vacuum packed foods are not free from concerns. This Listeria monocytogenes bacterium is known as an opportunistic pathogen, meaning those that are already ill or have a low immune system are mostly likely to suffer from infection.

How can chicken be the most unsafe food?

For starters,  whenever chickens are being gutted, feathers being plucked, etc. in a large factory setting. The intestines in the chicken can rupture. This spreads faecal matter on some of the machinery in the plant and a lot of the other chickens as well.

Because of the living conditions of chickens, this spreading of faecal matter is very dangerous. This causes the spread of disease from one chicken to the entire flock.

Chickens are only treated through the feed that they eat and not through injection like other livestock mammals, such as cows. With the increasing demand for less anti-biotic treatment that may transfers to the meat, this practise is being discouraged. Which means more and more bacteria are exposed during the slaughtering process.

You can check out the below video to see how this process can go wrong.


The Mechanical Slaughter process -

Or you can read this article on  Bacterial Contaminants of Poultry Meat: Sources, Species, and Dynamics

Outbreaks of food poisoning are often due to inadequate cooking or recontamination of the poultry after cooking. So cooking chicken completely, especially whole chickens is essential. Storing raw chicken and ready to eat foods is just as important.

Here are 3 quick tips for preventing food poisoning in the kitchen:

Prevent Cross-contamination

Hand washing and good personal hygiene is said to be the number one way to prevent food poisoning. Separating raw and ready-to-eat foods helps prevent cross-contamination where bacteria can get into foods that shouldn’t have it.  Following a colour-coding system also helps prevent contamination during the preparation of foods.

Temperature control

Raw meats and vegetables by design, naturally have a high bacterial load (high amount of bacteria). Which is why we need to cook meats before we can eat them. Download a temperature chart here.


A clean and sanitised kitchen ensures that bacteria doesn’t spread in the kitchen. Using suitable cleaning and sanitising products is necessary to eliminate bacteria.

Where do these reported illness come from?

Check out our article on 3 Easy Ways to Prevent Food Poisoning in the Kitchen for more tips.

According to the CDC, restaurants are most responsible for causing food poisoning above any other sources. With over 33 000 reported causes per year! 8000 cases were reported as coming from the home. Catering or banquet facilities usually have a bad reputation, but account for 18 000 cases. Although very high, were surprised to see that the sit-down restaurants were even worse.

So in conclusion, our summary from the data provided is that chicken served from a sit down restaurant is probably the most unsafe food can consume! This realistically means, that restaurants really need to up their game and implement the food safety pillars as the foundation for food safety system. This also means that there likely needs to be a change in the fast service industry.

Taking this extra few minutes to prepare foods safely is always the better service offering than quick food on the plate.

If you need to know more about food safety check out our book on Food Safety for the Kitchen.Which will take you through the step-by-step procedure to implementing a food safe kitchen. Even for chicken : the most unsafe food.

Read More

Bacteria & Food Poisoning

What is Listeria monocytogenes and how does it cause food poisoning?

Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive, rod shaped bacterium, and are most infamous for surviving and even growing well in refrigeration temperature ranges.
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Reasons Why You Should be Talking About Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms are caused by a large number of bacteria and can be defined as an illness caused by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated, causing nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. 
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Are you at risk of food poisoning?

Individuals that fall into what is known as the “high-risk” population. This is because each person in these categories do in one way or another have lower immune systems than the general population. This is mostly a natural occurrence...
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6 Ways Food Poisoning Could Leave You Needing a Lawyer

The legal implications of food poisoning can be difficult to prove. It is almost impossible to trace which food product over the course of one’s regular eating patterns, caused the illness. Yet it can be done.Here are 6 ways food poisoning could leave you needing a lawyer.
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How Does Food Get Contaminated? 

Salmonella are a type of bacteria that are one of the most common food poisoning bacteria (salmonellosis) and one of the most well known names of bacteria. 
Read Now
Need Food Safety Training? Check out our book on "Food Safety For The Kitchen" on This book covers the Bacteria Basics, The Food Safety Pillars and a bonus chapter on the Listeriosis Outbreak in South Africa. Known as as the largest Outbreak in Recorded History. 
Found Out More

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