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People Urged to Heat Cocktail Sausages Thoroughly

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Subject: Medical Officer of Health Urges People to Heat Cocktail Sausages Thoroughly

Canterbury’s Medical Officer of Health is urging people to thoroughly heat cocktail sausages before eating them following an outbreak of an illness among children who had consumed them.

Dr Ramon Pink says cocktail sausages (also known as cheerios or saveloys) should be heated before they are eaten and should not be offered cold to children at butcher’s shops or delicatessens.

An investigation by the Canterbury District Health Board’s Community and Public Health division has found six children under five years old with Yersiniosis had eaten cocktail sausages. Symptoms of the infection usually last about 48 hours and include diarrhoea, possibly stomach pains, but usually no vomiting.

Most of the children lived in the south Christchurch area and the suspected food was purchased in this area. The problem appears to have occurred from mid October to early November 2007. It is believed more people, particularly children, could have been affected by the illness.

The cocktail sausages were given to most of the children over the counter – a common practice which has been associated with outbreaks of salmonella and campylobacter in Christchurch in the past.

While cocktail sausages are cooked during their preparation they are not ready-to-eat foods. Further heating before eating is required to destroy any bacteria that may have contaminated them after they were made.

As the scale of the outbreak is unknown, Dr Pink says anyone who has eaten cocktail sausages purchased from the south Christchurch area during October/November and has developed diarrhoea and possibly stomach pains should contact a Community and Public Health Health Protection Officer on (03) 364-1777.

ENDS

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