A TASTE for pink meat could be responsible for record food poisoning figures.

More than two-fifths of people reported suffering severe stomach upsets after eating under-cooked food, which is a new high say food safety experts.

The fifth bi-annual Food in Scotland Consumer Tracking Survey reveals a celebrity-led trend is putting people at risk of campylobacter and salmonella poisoning.

The alarming statistics come as people enjoy barbecues in warm weather.

There has been a rise in the number washing raw meat, including chicken, and a drop in washing utensils during preparation, it was found.

This is despite extensive campaigns by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) highlighting risky food habits. Experts warn only the best cuts of beef or lamb should be eaten pink, as cases of Hepatitis E from contaminated pork are on the rise.

Leading bacteriologist Professor Hugh Pennington said consumers’ ignorance put their health at risk.He said: “The public is not all that aware of safety. Foods vary enormously in their risk. How meat is handled before and during cooking in the kitchen is very important, down to not washing a chicken and making sure juices do not touch uncooked food.

“Fifty per cent plus of chicken carcasses carry campylobacter on the outside. It only takes a few hundred to cause illness. A very brief blast of heat will kill off the bacteria – it is reasonably heat sensitive.”

FSS scientific adviser, Professor Norval Strachan, said: “As summer comes around we tend to see more people getting food poisoning in Scotland.“People enjoy the occasional barbecue so knowing how different meats should be cooked is really important to avoid nasty illnesses”.