Our recently published study on infectious intestinal disease (IID) unearthed some worrying statistics. The research found that almost 17 million people suffer from episodes of vomiting, diarrhoea, or a combination of both, every year. And while it's easy to trivialise these symptoms, they can have a dramatic impact on people’s lives and for some, the consequences can be serious.
The main causes of IID are viruses, particularly norovirus. But campylobacter is the main cause of bacterial IID in the UK, and this study has confirmed we're right in making the reduction of campylobacter a priority.
The frustrating thing is that the majority of IID cases are preventable with good basic hygiene. But these unacceptable levels of illness are not going to be reduced without education – and for this we need investment, both in public health and scientific research.
We are working to find effective ways of preventing contamination of foods during production and processing, funding research to investigate better methods of controlling and reducing foodborne pathogens, and promoting good food hygiene practice in the kitchen – both commercially and at home.
In some of these areas we are working closely with the food industry, and we will continue to build partnerships to reduce the burden of responsibility. Working together, we have the scope to reduce the levels of disease.
Let me know if you have any suggestions on how we can tackle this problem.