1,500 food poisoning cases alert in Doncaster

Dr Tony Baxter
Dr Tony Baxter

Diners in Doncaster have suffered nearly 1,500 cases of a serious food poisoning bug in the last three years, we can reveal.

Figures requested from the public health bosses show 1,479 people in the borough have gone down with the bug campylobacter since April 2012 – and NHS bosses are concerned cases of the illness may be on the rise.

Heath bosses are concerned about a rise in cases as a result of barbecues over the Bank Holiday.

And with more public holidays on the way, one of the borough’s most senior doctors is calling for people to be careful the bug does not spoil their parties.

In total, 475 cases of the bug, which causes nausea, severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea, were reported between April 2013 and March 2014, the highest number of food-borne infectious disease investigated by Environmental Health in the borough over that period.

But figures have decreased slightly since the same period last year, when 527 cases were reported, although that was a rise on 2011-12, when there were 477.

Doncaster’s director of public health Dr Tony Baxter warned people planning their barbecues now the weather is warming up to do all they can to prevent the illness striking.

He said: “Barbecued food may look well-cooked when it isn’t.

“Make sure that burgers, sausages and chicken are properly cooked by cutting into the meat and checking that it is steaming hot all the way through, that none of it is pink and that any juices run clear.

“If you’re barbecuing for lots of people, it’s a good idea to cook the meat or poultry in the oven and then finish it off on the barbecue for flavour.”

Campylobacter, which is found in chicken, is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

As part of National Food Safety Week, which runs from June 16 to 22, the Food Standards Agency will be launching a campaign to help people protect themselves against the bug.

It will encourage people to make sure their barbecues are piping hot, cook meat thoroughly and check it before they eat it. The aim is to reduce levels of bug nationally.

The agency is also commissioning research into the cause of increasing levels of infection nationally.

It says nationally campylobacter is said to be responsible 110 deaths each year with most cases coming from poultry.

Campylobacter can spread easily and has a low infective dose which means only a few bacteria in a piece of undercooked chicken, or bacteria transferred from raw chicken on to other ready-to-eat foods, can cause illness.

* For more information, visit Food Standards Agency