Never too late to learn good food safety habits

Merton’s older residents will have the opportunity to refresh their food hygiene skills at a free workshop during national Food Safety Week (15 -21 June 2009).

As part of Merton Council’s continued efforts to drive down the number of older people affected by food related illness, the council’s commercial food team will visit 17 organisations attended by the over 60s to give a free one hour session on the importance of good food hygiene, the difference between the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates and the risks of listeria.

Backed by the Food Standards Agency, this year’s Food Safety Week campaign is called ‘Preventing listeria in the home’, with particular emphasis on not using food past its use by date, making sure the temperature of fridges is kept between 0°C- 5°C and how to follow storage instructions on food labels.

For additional information on food hygiene or Food Safety Week residents can contact Merton Council on 020 8545 3024 or visit

Dr Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the FSA, said, “The rise in listeria food poisoning amongst older people is worrying. Listeria can make people very ill and 95% of cases end up with treatment in hospital.

“There are some really simple steps people can take to prevent getting ill in the first place: be aware that ‘use by’ dates indicate how long food will remain safe, and then make sure you stick to them; always follow the storage instruction on the label; and make sure your fridge is cold enough – between 0 oC and 5oC is ideal.

“These are the three messages that our new campaign is focusing on and Food Safety Week is a good time to be raising awareness of them. Cases of food poisoning double in frequency during the summer months but it is very easy to avoid becoming one of those who fall ill by sticking to these simple steps.”

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for environment and leisure services, Councillor David Simpson said, “It’s never too late to learn about food hygiene. Packaging rules have changed considerably over the years and we all need a refresh sometimes with regard to how we handle food safely when preparing it for our friends and family. As the weather gets warmer, we need to be particularly careful about keeping food refrigerated and not leaving it out too long.’

Notes to Editor

Food Safety Week highlights the importance of food safety and the basic principles of food hygiene.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the lead partner in Food Safety Week.
Listeria is a type of bacteria that can live and grow in food and cause food poisoning. It presents the greatest harm to those with compromised immune systems such as those over the age of 60, those who are pregnant or those with chronic illnesses. Listeria causes more deaths in the UK each year than Salmonella and E.coli combined.