Wednesday, 2 June, 2010
The rate of disease-causing E.coli cases in Ireland is one of highest in Europe, with verotoxigenic E.coli rates over five times the European average. A recent report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that Irish verotoxigenic E.coli rates doubled in Ireland between 2008 and 2009 and increased threefold in the past four years.
More than half of E.coli cases in Ireland are E.coli 0157, which spreads to human food through the faeces of animals and can cause serious illness and occasionally deaths. The recent outbreak of E.coli 0157 infections in a Vancouver daycare centre in April this year, which hospitalised multiple children and resulted in the death of one child, highlights the dangers of infections.
The EFSA confirms multiple listeriosis cases in Ireland every year. This particular infection is caused by the listeria bacterium and often affects newborn babies and people with weak immune systems.
Some of the listeriosis symptoms include vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea. Listeria rates in Irish retail shops is 4.3% in ready-to-eat salads, 1.7% in pre-cut fruit and vegetables, and a 4.3% rate in poultry meat.
Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning, with nearly 500 cases annually in Ireland, meaning one in 10,000 Irish people. Salmonella can be caused by contact with infected people and some rarer sources such as polluted surface water or contact with reptiles. But the most common causes are unhygienically thawed fowl and unclean food, particularly in institutional kitchens and restaurants.
Retailers and restaurants have a clear duty-of-care to their clients regarding the hygiene standards.
If you suffer from food poisoning, you need to get proper medical treatment immediately in case the poisoning degrades into a serious condition. You also need to preserve any food samples that you suspect may have caused your food poisoning and the receipts to prove where you purchased the food. You should contact a solicitor as soon as possible in case laboratory tests need to be arranged on any food samples. Your solicitor will also help you reporting the incident to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (this is important in case there is an outbreak). Your solicitor will be able to find out if there have been previous incidents of food poisoning from the same source, which is an important factor in any injury claims.