What are pathogens?
Pathogens are microorganisms which can cause diseases. If pathogens such as bacteria or viruses are exposed to food, and go on to be consumed, victims can become unwell several hours or even days later. Consequences of poor food hygiene can result in serious cases of food poisoning and hospitalisation for those exposed.
Common pathogens associated with food poisoning include:
- E. coli
- Clostridium perfringens
There are an estimated 74,000 cases of norovirus, 80,000 cases of clostridium perfringens and 280,000 cases of campylobacter each year. Serious consequences of poor food hygiene may include hospitalisation. Salmonella is the most common pathogen requiring hospitalisation, resulting in around 2,500 hospital admissions each year. If you have been hospitalised or need to see a doctor because of food poisoning, contact Accident Advice Helpline for expert guidance and legal advice.
Consequences of poor food hygiene could be avoided with these steps
If your job requires you to handle food then you should be given sufficient food safety training to follow the law and keep your customers safe. Some of the basic steps which you should be following while working with food includes keeping your hands clean and washing them whenever necessary. You should always let your employer know if you are suffering from any sickness.
Staff who are unwell and are suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should not be allowed to work with food as their illness could contaminate food. Employees should not be allowed to smoke, eat or drink around food and they should cover their nose and mouth if they sneeze or cough and their hands should be washed after they do so. If an employee has a cut, it should be covered with a brightly coloured, waterproof plaster, and a glove over the top may also be required.
The importance of washing your hands correctly
It is incredibly important to wash your hands regularly, especially when handling food. You should wash your hands after touching a door, light switch, telephone or after handling cash or operating a cash register. You should wash your hands after returning from a break or taking out rubbish. Handling raw fish, poultry or other meat or unwashed vegetables requires washing your hands afterwards to avoid cross-contamination.
Are you washing your hands correctly? Are your staff or colleagues? Though many of us do take care to wash our hands, you may be surprised to find out how many people do not regularly wash their hands or do not do it properly which can result in food poisoning. It's not enough to just place your hands under water and be done; you should be following these guidelines set out by the NHS:
- Use warm or cold water to wet your hands
- Use enough soap to cover your hands
- Rub your hands together
- Rub the back of one hand with the other, interlacing the fingers, and vice versa
- Rub your palms together and interlace your fingers
- Interlocking your fingers, rub the back of your fingers against your palms
- Clasp your thumb from one hand in the other and rub and rotate. Repeat with the other
- Rub the tips of your fingers in the palm of your other hand and in a circular motion and go backwards and forwards. Repeat with the opposite hand
- Rinse the soap from your hands with warm or cold water
- Dry your hands thoroughly. Disposable towels are recommended and can be used to turn off the tap to keep your hands clean
The length of time to wash your hands should take around 20 seconds and you can use an alcohol based hand rub if you do not have access to soap. Washing your hands can remove harmful bacteria and viruses which can cause food poisoning.
How serious is food poisoning and should I claim?
Consequences of poor food hygiene can result in food poisoning, and although some cases of food poisoning can be mild, if you needed to see a medical professional because of food poisoning and you know who is to blame for your illness then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
It is important to highlight the dangers and consequences of poor food hygiene to prevent further instances from happening. Food poisoning can be fatal and it can be more severe for vulnerable victims such as those who are elderly, pregnant or suffering from long-term illnesses. In fact, The World Health Organisation reported in 2015 that, globally, one in 10 people fall ill every year due to food-borne diseases and 420,000 die as a result.
If you have been affected by the consequences of poor food hygiene in the last three years and want to find out how much compensation you could be entitled to, contact Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 083 5045. We offer a no win no fee service and our helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Don't let someone's poor food hygiene go unnoticed, call Accident Advice Helpline today and get the justice you deserve.
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