UK: Rise in food poisoning cases after E.coli inquiry
Posted: October 27th, 2009 - 8:44am
Source: South Wales Echo
The high-profile South Wales E.coli public inquiry appears to have sparked an increase in the number of reported food-poisoning cases.
Latest figures show that June was the worst month so far this year for reports of food poisoning in Wales.
The number of cases notified to health boards was 631 in June, compared to 234 in January.
The figures highlight the impact the public inquiry into the September 2005 E.coli outbreak in South Wales has had on the willingness of doctors and sufferers to report suspected food poisoning cases.
The outbreak was the largest of its type in Wales and the second largest in the UK.
A total of 157 cases were identified, most of them children in four council areas is the South Wales Valleys. One child, Mason Jones, five, of Deri, near Bargoed, died.
Chris Franks, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales Central, who obtained the latest statistics said: “Although the rate of food poisoning per 100,000 population appears to be running at below levels in 2008 and 2007, there is certainly no need for complacency.
“Anyone dealing with food must follow the hygiene rules because failure to do so has led to tragic consequences in the past.
“While rates of food poisoning have fallen in many areas there have been some districts like Rhondda Cynon Taf where there has been a dramatic rise in cases from 131 in 2007 and 150 in 2008 to 247 so far in 2009, which is worrying.
“We have written to the Rhondda Cynon Taf council’s environmental health department to ask whether they have any concerns about the increases and whether they are planning any new campaigns to warn the public and businesses of the need for food hygiene.”
A spokeswoman for Rhondda Cynon Taf council said: “The high-profile E.coli court case and subsequent inquiry that has generated increased awareness of food poisoning and, as a result, has driven up the number of cases that are reported to us.
“More GPs are diagnosing cases as food poisoning and not stomach bugs and reporting them to us.
“This year has seen an increase in the number of food poisoning cases contracted abroad on holidays and then reported to us on return by the complainants or their GPs. This is not down to food poisoning or poor hygiene practices in the UK.
“We monitor the figures daily and do not see the increase as a cause for concern, but the situation is under constant monitoring.
“At the first sign of an outbreak we work very closely with the Consultant in Communicable Disease Control and other interested parties to deliver a quick and effective response to control its spread.
“We are not planning any new campaigns although we do have a rolling programme of food safety inspections of food premises.”