Food poisoning

One in five people in England suffer food poisoning every year. Meat and meat products are to blame for most cases with fish and dairy foods responsible for much of the rest. If plant foods cause poisoning, it tends to be because they are contaminated with animal excreta, human sewerage or were handled with dirty hands.

In the UK, Campylobacter is the most common foodborne pathogen, followed by Salmonella, which is responsible for the most hospital admissions.

Chicken is the most common food associated with food poisoning in the UK and the Food Standards Agency recently launched a campaign advising people not to wash raw chicken as the splashes could contaminate clothes, skin and the entire kitchen with infectious bacteria!

Salmonella bacteria are often found in raw or undercooked meat (especially chicken, pork and beef), as well as dairy products and eggs. Chickens, pigs and cows may be infected with Salmonella even though they show no symptoms.

E. coli is another common bacterium responsible for food poisoning and most cases are caused by undercooked beef (particularly mince, burgers and meatballs) as well unpasteurised milk.

Going vegan is no guarantee that you will avoid food poisoning, but it certainly lowers the risk substantially!   

Seven out of ten fresh shop-bought chickens in the UK tested positive for Campylobacter in 2015.

Cheap meat comes at a cost – the rapid expansion of large-scale factory-farms means that animals have their internal organs removed mechanically. It’s all about speed – producers boast how many animals they can process in one hour! The consequence is that meat is frequently contaminated with faecal residues (poo) from the guts. This is especially a concern with chicken as people eat the skin but can also cause problems when meat is minced for burgers then eaten rare, because the bacteria on the outside becomes incorporated throughout the meat.

Go vegan to lower your risk of food poisoning. Read more about Food poisoning.

See our Nutrition News on the topic.


A long-term study of over 120,000 people whose eating habits and health were followed for up to 28 years revealed that red meat consumption increases overall mortality as well as the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. The study also focused on the intake of other food groups and investigated the effects of substituting red meat for protein-rich foods like nuts, pulses, poultry, fish, wholegrains and dairy products. Both processed and unprocessed red meats were associated with an increased risk of total, CVD and cancer mortality.