Bacteria Found In Salads, Sauces Served At Kebab Takeaway Restaurants

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A new report published today reveals that 5% of salads and sauces served in kebab takeaway restaurants contain "unsatisfactory" (4.7%) and "unacceptable" (0.4%) levels of bacteria.

The study was carried out by the Health Protection Agency, LACORS (the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services) and local councils. The aim was to identify potential risks to consumers and controls that can improve food safety.

A total of 1213 salad and 1208 sauce samples were collected from 1277 randomly selected kebab shops across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Salad and sauce samples were examined to see if they contained the bacteria E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella. Sauces were additionally examined for Bacillus. Salmonella is unacceptable in ready to eat foods and some of the other bacteria can make people ill if they are present at high levels.

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Dr Jim McLauchlin, Director of the Health Protection Agency's Food, Water & Environmental Microbiology Services, said:

"Our study shows that the vast majority of salads and sauces we sampled from kebab takeaways were safe to eat with 95% of the samples collected being of a satisfactory or acceptable quality in microbiological terms. This means that food premises are maintaining good hygiene standards, stock and temperature control.

"However, we found that 5% were of an unsatisfactory or unacceptable microbiological quality which is concerning. Some samples contained Salmonella, or high levels of S. aureus or pathogenic Bacillus spp. which is considered 'unacceptable' and renders food unfit for human consumption. Ready-to-eat foods which contain 'unsatisfactory' levels of bacteria suggest that hygiene practices may not be to an adequate standard.

"The results emphasise that good hygiene practices and high standards of cleanliness must be maintained across the board at all times to prevent food from becoming contaminated. No food items should be overlooked. Businesses should also ensure that all members of staff are fully trained in food hygiene practices."

Food businesses are regularly checked by Local Authorities to ensure that they are compliant with food hygiene legislation and are provided with advice and support to help them ensure they produce food which is safe to eat. Small catering businesses that would like advice on food hygiene should contact their Local Authority.

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