Frozen foods - handle with care

briefing: Health
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Frozen beefburgers and sausages that have to be prised apart are turning kitchens into war zones, doctors warned yesterday. Increasing numbers of people are appearing at hospital casualty departments with hand injuries after using knives to separate frozen food items. Some suffer cut tendons and nerve damage from which they never fully recover.

A group of doctors has urged manufacturers to help reduce the level of injury with warning labels and instructions on how to separate frozen items safely.

Consultant plastic surgeon Stewart Flemming, from St Andrew's Hospital, Billericay, Essex, and two colleagues, identified 27 patients with knife wounds treated at four hospitals between 1992 and 1995. Additional information from the Department of Trade and Industry's home accident surveillance database for 1991 disclosed 32 patients with "cutting or piercing" injuries involving frozen items.

Beefburgers were by far the biggest danger, responsible for 30 of the accidents. Other cases involved chops, sausages, crumpets and pastry.