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Written by Safe Food Sally
on September 25, 2019

It’s important for anyone working with food to be knowledgeable around what causes food poisoning and how to prevent it from happening in their business.

There are many variations of food poisoning. They all have rather big names such as salmonellosis, giardiasis, yersiniosis, and cryptosporidiosis. According to the World Health Organisation [1] "the burden of foodborne diseases (food poisoning), including Campylobacteriosis, is substantial: every year almost 1 in 10 people fall ill and 33 million of healthy life years are lost". 

In New Zealand, food poisoning is one of our most common diseases and in August 12, 2016, a campylobacter contamination of the water supply caused more than 5000 Havelock North residents to fall ill and was linked to the deaths of three elderly people.

Campylobacteriosis stands out more than the rest. In 2018 alone, there were over 5,000 more cases of campylobacteriosis reported than any other type of food poisoning [2]. Campylobacteriosis usually occurs two to five days after being exposed to the bacteria and can cause a variety of symptoms, including diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain and sometimes bloody stools. The symptoms usually last about a week.

Foodsafe infographic cropped (002)-1


Who is at risk?

Some people are more susceptible to contracting foodborne diseases. Such as:

  • Children younger than 5 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • People whose immune systems are weak for health or medical reasons
  • And adults over the age of 65


What causes Campylobacteriosis?

Technically speaking, what actually causes food poisoning is bacteria, viruses, moulds, parasites, toxins and contaminants. So, how is Campylobacteriosis spread?

People usually become ill from eating poultry or drinking unpasteurised milk. Here in New Zealand, drinking water contaminated with faecal matter or direct contact with domestic or farm animals are common ways in which Campylobacteriosis is transmitted.[3] 


The good news is the Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) has helped halve foodborne Campylobacter illness since 2006.

In the kitchen, there are a few ways you and your staff can help to continue this downward trend. Such as:

  • Avoid cross contaminating surfaces. This includes chopping boards and storage containers.
  • Make sure chicken is properly cooked
  • Ensuring everyone in the kitchen has thoroughly washed their hands.
  • Washing dishcloths regularly and drying them properly before they’re used again is one way to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Germs love dirty, damp cloths.
  • Keeping raw meat separate from fruits, vegetables and ready-to-eat foods is essential. If germs from the raw meat find their way on to ready-to-eat foods like bread or salad, the risk of food poisoning is very high as the process of cooking food kills germs.
  • When cooking meat, make sure it’s cooked thoroughly leaving no pink inside.
  • This last tip may seem counter-intuitive, but don’t to wash raw meat before cooking. This spreads germs and bacteria around your kitchen.

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/campylobacter 

[2] https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/36771-annual-report-concerning-foodborne-disease-in-new-zealand-2018
[3] https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/communicable-disease-control-manual/campylobacteriosis 

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