Animals to teach serious health lessons at Balmoral

Issued on behalf of safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board and the Food Standards Agency for Northern Ireland

6 May, 2005. As the main attraction at the safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board, and Food Standard Agency’s joint stand, life size model animals will be used to show visitors of all ages the importance of handwashing after contact with animals.

Martin Higgins, Chief Executive of safefoodexplains: “It is all too easy to become complacent about hand washing and to think that food poisoning won’t happen to us. However a recent study of acute gastroenteritis1 recommended hand washing as the main way to avoid falling foul of it. This survey found over 1.1 million self reported episodes of gastroenteritis each year in Northern Ireland, and 253 000 of these were thought to be as a result of food poisoning.”

“It is vital that people wash their hands before preparing and eating food. They should also be particularly careful to wash their hands after they come into contact with animals. Unwashed hands carry germs which can easily be transferred to food and other people. If digested these germs can cause food poisoning and that’s a big price to pay for something that’s easily avoidable. safefood and FSANI are working together to show people the things they should watch out for to help prevent illness. ”


For further information or to request an interview with personnel from safefoodor the Food Standards Agency, please contact:

Fiona Gilligan, safefood on 003531 448 0600 or  00353 86 989 1682
Sarah Young, Citigate SMARTS on 028 9039 5500 or 07834 924 975
Claire Hutchinson, Citigate SMARTS on 028 9039 5500 or 07833 668759

Editors notes

  • 1 A study released in September 2004 ‘Acute Gastroenteritis in Ireland, North and South’ revealed that there may be 8,800 episodes of acute gastroenteritis on the Island of Ireland every day. A telephone survey of almost 1000 house holds was carried over 12 months and found that in any four week period 4.5% of the population will have an episode of acute gastroenteritis. If extrapolated to the entire population this means approximately 3.2 million cases of acute gastroenteritis each year.
  • When asked what they thought caused their illness 23% suspected their illness was due to consuming contaminated food or water. If extrapolated to Northern Ireland this means 253,000 people self reported, suspected cases of food poisoning.
  • Gastroenteritis is a common but frequently preventable illness. Its symptoms include a combination of diarrhoea and vomiting, and occasionally abdominal pain, cramps and fever. One of the ways acute gastroenteritis can be acquired and spread is through consuming contaminated food.