Food safety campaign targets young men as barbecue season approaches

In time for the start of barbecue season in Switzerland health officials are warning young men in particular about the need to respect hygiene rules.

Food safety campaign targets young men as barbecue season approaches
Make sure to cook it completely. Photo: ArturVerkhovetskiy/Depositphotos

Not everyone takes the right amount of care when grilling meat and fish, according to the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, which has launched a new information campaign on “safe eating”. 

According to the federal office, inadequate food hygiene results in 10,000 cases of food poisoning every year.

It says men aged between 18 and 30 are most affected by campylobacteriosis, one of the most common foodborne illnesses that can cause stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and pain. 

This is mainly due to lack of awareness of hygiene rules, says the federal office.

It hopes to reach young men in particular through an online and social media campaign.

The four golden rules of food hygiene that it lists are: separate foodstuffs correctly, heat to the right temperature, chill correctly and wash your hands properly.

“Often raw chicken is not kept separate from meat that has already been cooked,” said Eva van Beek of the federal office, quoted by 20 Minuten.

Dirk Bumann of the University of Basel Biozentrum molecular life sciences centre confirmed to the paper that young men tended to be “not well informed” about the health risks of undercooked meat.

“Even if the meat is black on the outside, if it is raw inside it still contains bacteria,” the expert said.   


For members


Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad