Food Poisoning Said 'Massively Underestimated' In England
BBC Health
Public confidence in food safety has been dented
A leaked report has said that food poisoning affects up to 10 million people in England every year, according to a leaked government report.
The report says cases of poisoning and infection in the UK have been massively underestimated.
It says the annual cost in absenteeism, treatment and lost business amounts to £700m.
The report concludes that previous estimates saying only one in 10 food poisoning cases was reported to GPs, were inaccurate. The figure is nearer one in 30.
The report is based on an investigation by GPs and scientists which began in 1993 after several food scares, including fears that salmonella could be commonly found in eggs.
They spent five years studying reports of poisoning and illness before submitting their report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The claims have provoked calls for the speedy establishment of an independent Food Standards Agency.
Although proposals for the agency have been published, the legislation is unlikely to be included in next week's Queen's Speech and there have been suggestions that its launch could be postponed until the year 2000.
A spokeswoman for the Consumers' Association, Julie Sheppard, told Channel 4 News there was now an obvious need for an independent Food Standards Agency.
She said: "It seems there is more food-borne disease than we ever imagined. This is causing ill health and costing the economy significant amounts of money.
"In the light of these figures it is even more essential we have an independent body which stands outside the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which can put consumers' interests first."