Oh crap! Food mistakes are poison for Warwick locals
POO-contaminated food, under-cooked meats and dodgy seafood are making hundreds of Southern Downs residents sick each year.
A special Daily News investigation reveals 3970 people in the Darling Downs health district had food poisoning in the past five years.
Last year saw 749 easily preventable cases of gastrointestinal disease including 473 reports of campylobacter, 53 of cryptosporidiosis and 173 cases of salmonella, Queensland 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.
Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Penny Hutchinson said community education helped keep gastro rates steady.
"Darling Downs Health releases public information about the risk of gastroenteritis at peak times of the year which include in the lead-up to Christmas when lots of families are gathering to share food, and over the summer months when temperatures are higher," Dr Hutchinson said. -NewsRegional
BY THE NUMBERS
Gastrointestinal disease notifications across Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service region in 2018
Hepatitis A, 2
Hepatitis E, 1
Shiga toxin-producing E.coli, 1