E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

Are people in England facing food poisoning ‘Russian roulette’ as illnesses soar?

11th March 2024

According to an Article in the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday 6th March 2024 people in England are facing food poisoning ‘Russian roulette’ as illnesses soar. Link to this article below. (If it asks you to register, click on I will do it later).


This article states: 


Admissions for salmonella infections reached 1,468 in England between April 2022 and March 2023, NHS data shows, a rate of three admissions for every 100,000 people, an all-time high.


E.coli and campylobacter have also reached record highs in the past two years”


The article goes on to talk about the possible reasons for this increase such as cuts to local authorities whose Environmental Health Officers carry out inspections on Food Businesses etc.


In relation to the salmonella outbreak mentioned in this article from poultry and eggs imported from Poland in 2023, there was also a previous outbreak in 2020 and 2021 when almost 400 people were reported sick or had been sick at that time due to Salmonella Enteritidis from chicken products, despite UK officials speaking to their Polish counterparts.


We are not surprised by food poisoning cases increasing, as we reported on our website on the18th February 2024 that from our research Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) & Listeria illnesses were on the rise in the UK. 


Whilst I believe the number of reported cases is partly due to better diagnostic tests now available such as Polymerase chain reaction(PCR) etc, government departments, such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have lost their way in trying to reduce foodborne illness.


Whilst I appreciate the FSA have had cuts to their budget, they were set up in 2000 following the Food Standards Act 1999 which states: 


The main objective of the Agency in carrying out its functions is to protect public health from risks which may arise in connection with the consumption of food (including risks caused by the way in which it is produced or supplied) and otherwise to protect the interests of consumers in relation to food” 


Being a so-called independent Government Department I believe the FSA have failed to prevent the increase in foodborne illnesses including those people being hospitalised, because our food is being adulterated by bacterium in food, where it is present.


This, comes at a time when the FSA, has no targets to reduce foodborne illness and are going to discuss at their board meeting on 20th March 2024 the thresholds they consider acceptable. Whilst they continue to monitor the rates of Food Borne disease (FBD), due to changes in reporting, (better laboratory diagnostic techniques etc) these thresholds are being reassessed and the FSA will then come back to their Board prior to implementing any changes that might be needed. 


I believe there should be no acceptable levels or thresholds of foodborne illness or disease, just targets to reduce these. 

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