Takeaways causing thousands of norovirus cases with food poisoning on the rise

Takeaways and restaurant meals are causing hundreds of thousands of norovirus cases, as food poisoning cases skyrocket.

380,000 cases of foodborne illness a year are caused by norovirus – with almost two thirds linked to restaurant or takeaway meals, according to new research.

The infectious intestinal disease (IID) is commonly known as the winter vomiting bug.

Of that figure, food eaten in restaurants, cafes and fast food joints made up 37% of cases.

Takeaways and home deliveries made up a further 26%.

The Food Standards Agency says the total number of intestinal illnesses linked to any type of food contamination is more than double the previous estimates.

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This tallies up to 2.4 million cases a year, with 220,000 resulting in a visit to the GP.

Researchers found meals requiring human contact, such as a sandwich or kebab, were more likely to pass on the norovirus.

Guy Poppy, chief scientific adviser to the FSA, said: “This work gives us a much better idea of the role of food in the spread of all infectious intestinal disease in the UK.

“This does not mean more people are getting unwell, only that we estimate food is responsible for more existing cases than previously thought.

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Most of this increase is due to innovative research into food-borne norovirus.

“As part of this, sampling surveys focused on the five most common food-related transmission routes.

“Although the percentages may appear striking, the risk to consumers remains low.

“We are not changing our advice to consumers and businesses. Instead this research reinforces the need for the highest standards of good personal and food hygiene practices in catering establishments and at home.”

Over the past decade the UK's takeaway scene has boomed, with the launch of intermediary delivery companies such as Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

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Most operate via an app, with the British online food delivery industry worth £4.2bn as of this year, with 22.5m users.

The product causing the most problems was lettuce, which resulted in 19.5% of norovirus infections from food, the researchers reported.

Raspberries bought from shops are blamed for 4% of cases, while oysters, commonly blamed for food poisoning, only account for 3%.

Despite the rise in numbers, the FSA said there is no new risk to public health.

  • Norovirus

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