Oh crap! Food mistakes are poison for Grafton locals
POO-contaminated food, under-cooked meats and dodgy seafood are making hundreds of Northern NSW residents sick each year.
A special Daily Examiner investigation reveals 1402 locals had food poisoning in the past five years.
Last year saw 282 easily preventable cases of gastrointestinal disease including 35 reports of cryptosporidiosis and 246 cases of salmonella, New South Wales Health notifiable disease data shows.
Most of these illnesses are caused by faeces-laden food or water, incorrectly prepared meats, bad seafood and questionable leftovers. Food poisoning costs the Australian economy $1.2billion a year.
Disease expert Dr Vincent Ho urged locals to make simple changes in the kitchen to keep these diseases at bay.
"Anyone can get these types of infections but some people are more susceptible to them including the elderly, those with poor immune systems and those who are very sick," the University of Western Sydney academic said.
"In general campylobacter and salmonella can come from contact with different food but cryptosporidiosis is a bit different as it can be found in natural water sources like recreational water parks, rivers and areas where faecal matter is in the water.
"Infections can make you quite sick but people who are vulnerable can become extremely sick and die from the conditions."
Dr Ho said suggested these simple steps to avoid food poisoning:
Separate raw red meats, poultry and eggs from other foods;
Wash fruits and vegies before eating;
Use a separate cloth to dry dishes;
Avoid eating under-cooked meats;
Use different chopping boards for meats and other foods; and
Wash hands thoroughly.
"If you want to really reduce the likelihood of contamination wash your hands for at least 15 seconds," he said.
Northern NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit director Paul Corben said gastro rates were steady but he warned those with one ailment to stay out of pools.
"People diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis should not use a public swimming pool until two weeks after diarrhoea stops to avoid spreading the infection to others," he said. -NewsRegional
BY THE NUMBERS
Gastrointestinal disease notifications across Northern NSW Health District in 2018