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Takeaway (BBQ) chicken

Takeaway chicken shops sell a variety of food such as BBQ chicken and other chicken products, ready-to-eat (RTE) salad, cooked meat, and gravy.

These foods can be categorised as potentially hazardous because they may contain microbial pathogens and they can support pathogen growth at certain temperatures.

As such, they must be prepared hygienically and displayed at appropriate temperatures (see guideline potentially hazardous foods).

This survey was conducted to assess:

  • microbiological quality of prepared food
  • hygiene status of equipment and surfaces, based on environmental swabs
  • food handling practices at the outlets in NSW.

From March to December 2010, local council Environment Health Officers (EHOs) visited 64 randomly selected takeaway chicken shops across NSW. They collected food samples, environmental swabs and completed a food handling questionnaire.

Food samples were analysed for a number of microorganisms including Standard Plate Counts (SPC), Escherichia coli, Coagulase positive staphylococci (CPS), Bacillus cereus, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter. The environmental swabs were tested for Salmonella and Campylobacter.
 

Results

Food testing results showed that 93% of samples tested were categorised as good or acceptable.

Where samples were found to be unsatisfactory or potentially hazardous, follow-up action was undertaken by the relevant EHOs in accordance with the level of risk posed. Follow-up action included detailed inspection of the premises, re-sampling of products, and education on the significance of the findings.

The food handling questionnaire identified some food hygiene and handling practices that might lead to food safety problems including:

  • display of gravy and mayonnaise-based salads within the temperature danger zone (between 5 and 60ºC)
  • re-use of shredded/diced chicken the next day after being displayed for a period of time outside temperature control
  • use of large containers (>5 litre) to cool gravy
  • incorrect use of sanitisers to sanitise food preparation surfaces.

The poor handling practices observed at the surveyed premises may not in themselves cause foodborne illness. However, when foodborne illness occurs, it is normally due to a series or combination of poor practices which might include those found.

The recently-introduced Food Safety Supervisor requirement for most NSW retail food outlets as well as ongoing food safety education of food handlers can assist in improving food handling practices at takeaway chicken outlets.

The Food Authority has also published a number of factsheets and guidelines that can be applied to takeaway chicken businesses to help address poor handling practices. These include:

Details of the survey are available in:

Survey of takeaway chicken shops, July 2011 (pdf 1MB, 54pp)

Table of contents:
Executive summary
Introduction
Materials and methods
Council participation
Method for laboratory analysis
Method for data analysis
Food handling questionnaire
Results Microbiological results - food samples
Microbiological results - environmental swabs
Responses to food handling questionnaire
Discussion
Conclusion
Acknowledgement
References
Appendices