Winter gastro warning
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Experts warn those on election trail to avoid winter gastro by having clean hands

The Food Safety Information Council today warned those on the election campaign trail to keep their hands clean by washing them with soap, or using hand sanitizer, to avoid the risk of catching and spreading norovirus.
Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said that norovirus gastro outbreaks tend to be more common during the winter months especially during June and July when the election campaign is being run.
‘Norovirus outbreaks are common where people are in close spaces, such as when travelling and at community events. Once norovirus is contracted, a single infected person can easily spread gastro to many others especially by handshaking.
‘In March this year more than 70 people got norovirus at a political event in Nebraska, USA and health authorities attributed its spread to handshaking.
‘Norovirus is among the top 4 known causes of foodborne disease each year. A recent ANU research that found there are an estimated 276,000 cases of norovirus infection on average in Australia each year, leading to 150 hospitalisations and 1 death.
‘Now politicians have our advice on how to safely shake hands, we are calling on the Turnbull Government to commit to restoring our Federal funding which was cut by the Abbott Government in 2014.
‘We are a health promotion charity and have had bipartisan support since the early 2000s through a Government grant. Our important role in reducing the risk of gastro and food poisoning in the community has been recognized by the Federal Government’s own research. So it was disappointing to hear from Food Minister Fiona Nash, prior to the election being called, that our funding wouldn’t be restored.
‘There have been major food poisoning outbreaks in the last 18 months linked to imported frozen berries, unpasteurized milk, lettuce, bean sprouts and raw eggs.  This puts a huge drain on our health services which our educational work can easily reduce.
‘Without further funding we will have to close our telephone advisory service this month and it looks unlikely that we will be able to run the 20th Australian Food Safety Week in November 2016.
‘We are currently running a crowd funding campaign where we are encouraging people to share their gastro nightmare and make a donation. We thank everyone who made donations and sponsorship offers so far but it seem unfair that the community solely has to fund our important public health work that benefits governments,’ Ms Williams concluded.
Details on how to donate are at MyCause and sign our petition at
Media contact: Lydia Buchtmann:, 0407 626 688
The Food Safety Information Council is Australia’s leading disseminator of consumer-targeted food safety information which aims to address the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors on average each year.

Details about closing our phone information line

We’re sorry we have to close our phone service in June 2016 as we know many of you find it useful, especially when you have a sick child or an urgent food safety enquiry, for example if the power is out. It is 2 years since the Abbott Government withdrew our annual grant of $220,000 which helped us fund a paid Executive Officer and to run our education campaigns. Since then our amazing volunteers, most of whom are food safety experts, have kept things running on top of their day jobs. The 2015-16 summer food safety campaign was our most successful yet reaching an audience of 12 million Australians. Without further funding we won’t be able to run Food Safety Week in November and we may be facing closure at the end of this year. We would like you to donate at MyCause to help keep us going and to sign our petition to the Turnbull Government on We would also love to hear from you if your organisation would like to sponsor Food Safety Week
In the meantime we can still answer your consumer questions if you send them by email at just be patient as it may take a little longer. 
Lydia Buchtmann
Communication Director
Copyright © 2016 Food Safety Information Council, All rights reserved.

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