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Food Standards Agency publishes latest figures on food poisoning

The FSA has released research giving detailed analysis of reasons for food poisoning in the UK

Posted on 27 June 2014

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published research which suggests that the official figures for food poisoning seriously under-estimate how many people suffer from food poisoning each year in the UK. 

Many people who experience food poisoning do not report their illness to their GPs as many individuals recover quickly from the symptoms. 

This research, combined with official data, gives a more realistic picture of how many food poisoning cases are happening each year. 

Statistics that emerged from the study include the fact that: 

Known pathogens are the cause of more than 500,000 cases of food poisoning each year.
The most common foodborne pathogen is Campylobacter which results in some 280,000 cases every year.
Clostridium perfringens causes 80,000 cases, and norovirus was third with an estimated 74,000 cases.
Salmonella is the causes of the most hospital admissions, some 2,500 each year.
Poultry meat is estimated to cause 244, 000 cases of food poisoning cases each year
Vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, caused the second highest number of cases of illness followed by beef and lamb. 

As well as identifying about half a million cases of food poisoning attributable to 13 specific pathogens researchers believe that 10 million incidents of infectious intestinal disease (IID) a year are not yet attributed to a specific pathogen. 

The lead researcher Professor Sarah O'Brien, from the University of Liverpool, said: 

'These findings will help the FSA to target its resources more effectively in tackling food poisoning. They confirm that the FSA is right to put campylobacter at the top of its priority list. It is the biggest food safety problem we have and more needs to be done to tackle it.' 

The message of Food Safety Week 2014 was to encourage people not to wash their raw chickens as this can encourage the spread of the Campylobacter pathogen through water droplets. 

Tina Patel, a solicitor at Leigh Day who deals with food safety claims commented: 

“I would encourage anyone who does suffer with symptoms of food poisoning to report them to the relevant authorities no matter how quickly their symptoms resolve. 

“It is only by reporting every incident which occurs that the true number of food poisoning cases each year will emerge and preventative action taken”.