Focus on shellfish and chicken for summer in New Zealand

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Public health officials in New Zealand are urging people to thoroughly cook any shellfish they collect to avoid Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection.

New Zealand is now in the warmer summer months of the Southern Hemisphere, and during previous such seasons, Vibrio infections have increased.

Between November 2021 and July 2022, there were 67 cases of V. parahaemolyticus, resulting in several hospitalizations. Diseases have been associated with oysters, mussels, shellfish, fish and cinchona. More than 50 patient samples were sequenced, revealing different types. That means different seafood was behind the disease.

“Our message to anyone who wants to eat raw or lightly cooked shellfish, such as mussels, kina and phi phi, is to be aware of the increased risk of disease and to take simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. Take good precautions,” said Vincent. Arbuckle, New Zealand Deputy Director of Food Safety.

mysterious rising source
At the beginning of 2021, 24 cases were reported, compared with 16 in 2020 and 23 in 2019.

“We’re starting to see more cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus disease. We can’t pinpoint exactly what the cause is, but it’s possible that warmer waters are making it easier for the bacteria to spread,” Arbuckle said.

“The reason for the increase is unknown at this stage. It could be due to environmental changes, increased testing and reporting, or a combination of these and other factors, but cooking shellfish can release disease-causing bacteria. It is clear that he will be killed.”

Vibrio is a type of bacteria that naturally inhabits the sea. It can cause illnesses such as gastroenteritis with symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever.

Arbuckle said it’s especially important to avoid eating raw shellfish for people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, the elderly and young children.

“The more we know how to safely collect, store, prepare and cook shellfish, the more we can look after ourselves and those within our potentially more vulnerable communities. We can’t control the factors, but we can all help take care of ourselves [extended family] By taking simple precautions and disseminating safe ways to cook shellfish, we reduce the risk of contracting Vibrio,” he said.

Tips include cooking the crustaceans until they are open and firm to the touch or at least 1 minute at 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) and collecting the crustaceans after heavy rain or when the water is dirty. and refrigerate as soon as possible. Please eat on the day of collection or within two days. To avoid cross-contamination, keep hands and utensils clean and keep raw shellfish away from cooked or ready-to-eat products.

safe chicken tips
The New Zealand Food Safety Authority has also launched a food safety campaign. In a series of videos, two chicken scene investigators try to uncover chicken handling crimes.

According to Arbuckle, food poisoning and hospitalizations increase each summer.

“The most commonly reported disease is Campylobacteriosis, caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, with the youngest and oldest people having the highest rates of infection,” he said.

“In 2021, there were 5,729 confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis, with 846 requiring hospital care, up from 718 in 2020. More than 5,300 cases have been reported nationwide in 2018. The most common source of Campylobacter infection from food is raw or undercooked chicken.”

Arbuckle said the infection can develop into serious illnesses such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Advice includes keeping raw chicken separate from ready-to-eat and perishable foods, and using separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils. but do not wash poultry. It just spreads bacteria to other surfaces.Chicken should be thoroughly cooked before serving. Using a meat thermometer, the chicken should be at least 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit).

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