Infectious Diseases

Avoiding infections on farm visits

Open farms are always popular attractions for both children and adults but it is important to know how to remain safe during your visit. Following on from Professor Griffins independent investigation into the major outbreak of E.Coli 0157 at Godstone Farm in Surrey a new guidance leaflet has been published.

The leaflet has been produced by the Health Protection Agency, Department of Health and Defra. To access the full leaflet please follow the link at the bottom of this page.

February 2015: See Defra's advice on the recent low severity avian flu outbreak in the Winchester district

Guidance to prevent E.Coli Contamination

The Food Standards Agency has issues advice to clarify the steps that food businesses should be taking to control the risk of contamination from the food bug E.Coli 0157.

To read the full article and download the guidance please visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Caterers Warned on Chicken Livers

The consumption of chicken liver products such as pate and parfait has been linked to a number of recent outbreaks of campylobacter food poisoning. Caterers are therefore being reminded to ensure they are following correct handling and cooking procedures when preparing chicken livers.

Bacteria can be present throughout an entire chicken liver so thorough cooking is vital. Bacteria can also be easily spread so hygienic handling is important to prevent cross contamination of bacteria to any cooked or ready to eat foods.

Campylobacter is the most commonly reported form of food poisoning and accounts for more than 300,000 cases a year in England and Wales. Infected individuals can suffer from symptoms including abdominal cramps and severe diarrhoea.

Further details about the safe preparation of chicken livers can be found on the Food Standards Agency website

Listeria

Listeria is a rare but potentially life threatening disease. Most healthy adults are likely to suffer little more than mild flu-like symptoms or gastroenteritis; however pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakenedimmune systems are more susceptible.

Infection with Listeria usually occurs by eating contaminated foodstuffs, with pre-prepared cooked and chilled meals, soft cheeses, cold cuts of meat, and smoked fish being most commonly associated. Listeria is one of the more unusual food poisoning bacteria because it can grow at temperatures ranging from normal room temperature down to as low as 5oC (refrigeration temperature).

Poor refrigeration and failure to follow shelf life labelling can result in the multiplication of the bacteria to unsafe levels. It is impossible to tell from the appearance, smell or taste that food is contaminated with Listeria which makes the control of it so important. Killing of the bacteria is possible by thorough cooking in a conventional oven or microwave.

On average it takes thirty days for illness to develop after ingesting food contaminated with Listeria. In the worst cases symptoms can progress to severe blood poisoning or meningitis and may have the patient hospitalised for a number of weeks.

The following is a list of simple steps to minimise the risk:

  • Make sure your fridge is set to 5oC or below and is functioning correctly
  • Food taken out of chilled storage should be eaten within four hours - after this time the food should be thrown away
  • Keep cooked and raw foods separate
  • Follow the storage instructions printed on the label
  • Cook food thoroughly ensuring that it is cooked in the centre
  • Don't use food after its 'use by' date
  • Use opened foods within two days, unless the manufacturer's instructions state otherwise
  • Throw away left over re-heated food
  • Cooked food that is not eaten should be cooled as quickly as possible and then stored within the refrigerator