Are all chefs preparing pâté properly?
Or could they be contributing to the estimated 300,000+ cases of Campylobacter food poisoning that occur each year in the UK? The Health Protection Agency has reported that 9 out of the 11 Campylobacter outbreaks in 2009 (and 5 outbreaks so far this year) were linked to poultry liver pâté produced in catering premises.Eight of the nine outbreaks in 2009 were linked with pates or parfaits made with chicken livers and one with duck livers. There was evidence that these livers were deliberately undercooked (seared by flash frying which is what some recipes state) or inadequately cooked in a bain marie. These outbreaks illustrate a commonly held belief that it is safe to serve chicken livers – although no-one would dream of serving undercooked chicken joints! The facts are these. Campylobacter is found on 65% of chickens on retail sale. One of the reasons for this is due to birds' stress at slaughter. Chemical changes allow germs to migrate from the bird's gut to its flesh and the inside of the liver. This will occur whether the chicken is free-range, organic or factory farmed. So although where poultry is sourced is important it will not prevent the livers being contaminated with campylobacter. Make sure you cook poultry livers to at least 70°C for two minutes or equivalent. The equivalent heat treatments are:
- – 65°C for 10 minutes
- – 70°C for two minutes
- – 75°C for 30 seconds
- – 80°C for 6 seconds
Remember, food poisoning outbreaks can ruin reputations as well as proving costly in Court with fines up to £20,000 per offence.