- More than 7,000 reported cases of intestinal disease in Western Australia in 2017
- Majority of cases originate within the home
- New whole-of-industry approach to reduce the rate of salmonella by 2021
A new collaborative approach between government and industry has been created to drive down the rate of food poisoning in Western Australia.
In 2017, there were 7,234 reported cases of intestinal disease in Western Australia; most were likely attributed to foodborne transmission. As this number reflects the number of cases where medical assistance was required, the true number would be much higher.
Food poisoning can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and stomach cramps - resulting in discomfort and time off work. Severe cases result in hospitalisation and even death.
The two most common causes of foodborne illness are campylobacter and salmonella. Rates of food poisoning attributed to these bacteria are higher in WA and Australia than comparable countries. In fact, rates of salmonellosis peaked in WA in 2017 and were higher than most States and Territories.
The majority of salmonellosis cases have not been linked to a food business, which indicates the majority of cases originated from within the home, caused by poor food preparation and safety.
To reduce the rate of cases in Western Australia, the Department of Health has developed a Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy. The strategy is a collaborative partnership with input from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, local governments, industry stakeholders and producers, and researchers.
It will focus on research; cross industry collaboration and partnerships; communication of shared responsibility across the food industry; primary production, food service and retail monitoring and surveying and consumer awareness. Further, the strategy will align with national-level food industry strategies and contribute to national policy.
The aim is to reduce the number of salmonellosis cases by 30 per cent; while in the long term ensuring rates are the same, or less, as comparable countries.
More information on safe food handling can be found on the HealthyWA website at http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/Food-safety-tips
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"It is concerning that rates of salmonella in WA are high, which is avoidable through correct food handling and safety.
"I therefore congratulate all members of this collaborative partnership for working together to raise awareness of the issue and reduce the risk, for the benefit of all Western Australians.
"I look forward to seeing the rate of cases continue to decline, as they have done since 2017.
"However, given the majority of cases are originating from kitchens in residential homes, I encourage everyone to take responsibility for their food handling practices and ensure their food is prepared, cooked and stored correctly."
Minister's office - 6552 6500