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Significant Drop in Cases of Campylobacter

THE Ministry of Health has reported a 30% drop in the number of notified cases of Campylobacter.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health show 5, 704 cases of Campylobacter have been reported to date this year, a drop of 30% (8,179 reported for the same time last year). Reports of Salmonella are up slightly by 4% with 1,651 cases reported this year compared to 1,591 in 1998.

For the month of September there was a 36% drop in the number of cases of Campylobacter from 887 in 1998 to 559 cases this month. Similarly, Salmonella has dropped by 5.3% from 149 to 141.

Acting Public Health Director Dr Bob Boyd said the drop was pleasing, and may indicate that people are taking more care with food storage and preparation, however there is no room for complacency.

"We are coming into summer when food borne diseases are more common and people need to be especially aware of the extra care they should take with the food they prepare and make sure it is fully cooked."

Dr Boyd says it is important for the public to maintain basic home hygiene in order to combat these bugs.

Salmonella and Campylobacter are both bacteria found in a wide range of animals and foods of animal origin, especially poultry and meats.

Background

The Ministry of Health has introduced a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system to help identify areas of risk. It specifically targets restaurants and cafes. Most of the food industry has food safety programmes either in progress or fully in place through HACCP, which is almost most universally accepted as the most appropriate means of ensuring food safety.

The Ministry is also, together with the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Wellington Medical School, developing a co-ordinated plan of research to try to identify the infection pathways and, hence, what steps might be effective in diminishing the reservoirs of Campylobacter in human, animal and bird populations in New Zealand.

Key ways to protect against food borne illness

Reduce bacterial contamination and growth:

store foods at an appropriate temperature out of the 'danger zone' (between 4 deg C and 65 deg C - ie fridge and piping hot)

do not leave perishable food at room temperature for more than a total of two hours

cook and reheat foods, especially meat and poultry, so they are piping hot throughout

use cooked foods, that have been stored in the refrigerator, within two days

never reheat food more than once

wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly

freeze foods quickly, thaw in the refrigerator or microwave, avoid re-freezing thawed foods

2) Protect food from cross-contamination through appropriate storage, handling and sanitation:

keep raw and prepared foods separate during preparation, serving and storage

store prepared foods above raw foods in the refrigerator

store foods in covered containers whether in the fridge or the cupboard

keep food storage, preparation areas and equipment clean using hot soapy water. It is a good idea to have separate cutting boards for raw foods such as meat and poultry, and ready to eat foods such as cheese, cooked meats and salads.

Ensure good personal hygiene:

ensure adequate personal hygiene including hand washing after handling raw foods, refuse, animals, visiting the toilet or changing nappies

do not cough or sneeze over food

do not smoke when preparing food (handling cigarettes puts saliva and bacteria from skin or lips onto your hands which may then contaminate the food)

ENDS


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