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Germs and more - Clever kitchen hygiene

04/2018, 19.01.2018

The BfR is providing information on food hygiene in the kitchen at International Green Week

Whether in the fridge, on the dish cloth or on eggs, meat or salad, food can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites. Consumers often underestimate the risks that can arise through errors when storing and preparing food at home. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is explaining the risks and providing information on measures with which people can protect themselves against food-related illnesses. "Many people are afraid of chemicals in their food, but it’s bacteria, fungi or viruses in food that actually make you sick," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Only one person in five is concerned about food hygiene at home even though the proper handling of food in your own kitchen is the best way to prevent infections. We all need to sharpen our awareness for health risks when preparing meals". The BfR is turning the topic of kitchen hygiene into a close-up experience at International Green Week in Berlin from 19 to 28 January.

At the International Green Week the BfR presents live cooking shows in which a TV chef provides information on the proper handling of food in the kitchen at home. At BfR stall 148 at the Event Farm (Hall 3.2), an over-dimensional kitchen sponge gives an insight into the cosmos of germs. Scientific facts about the properties and modes of action of kitchen germs are explained here in an entertaining way. In the Kids' Germ Rally, children become secret germ agents and have to find out all the places where microbes can hide. In addition to all of this, visitors can test their knowledge using the Germ Roundabout and by putting food into the Error Fridge. And whoever has always wanted to know the difference between bacteria, viruses and parasites can have it explained to them using the numerous life-sized XXL germ models.

Every year, more than 100,000 cases of illness are reported in Germany which are probably attributable to food-related infections with microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites. These include above all infections with Campylobacter bacteria, Salmonella and noroviruses. But the real number is much higher. In most cases, illnesses which usually involve symptoms such as stomach cramp, diarrhoea and vomiting are over in a couple of days. Food infections can be very severe, however, with people whose immune system is weakened or not fully developed. For this reason, it is important to comply with hygiene rules when storing and preparing food. The goal is to avoid the contamination of food with pathogens in our own kitchens and to limit the propagation or prevent the survival of pathogens in food.

The BfR Kitchen Hygiene forum is being held in the CityCube Berlin on 24 January 2018 from 1.00 to 2.30 pm under the heading "TV Cooking Shows - Errors by the Minute: Kitchens, germs and chefs". Experts will be discussing health risks during the preparation of food and explaining what hygiene measures have to be taken to protect ourselves. The current research project "Kitchen hygiene in the spotlight: Do TV cooking shows influence our hygiene behaviour?" is also being presented.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

The BfR is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the institute has published a jubilee brochure (in German) which can be downloaded or ordered free of charge at http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/publication/brochures-61045.html.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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FAQ about protection against foodborne infections in private households

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