Wrexham E.coli victim demands better food hygiene standards

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A WOMAN who almost died after contracting E.coli last year believes food outlets should be forced to display their official hygiene rating in their premises.

Karen Morrisroe, 33, of Rhosnesni, was one of four people from the Wrexham area struck down with the potentially fatal stomach bug during an outbreak in Llay last July.

She battled for her life for several weeks in Wrexham Maelor Hospital as a catalogue of serious complications developed as a result of the illness.

The outbreak was officially linked to Llay Fish Bar following a probe by health officials.

The premises has since reopened under new management.

Now fighting her way back to full fitness, Karen says she is determined to support measures which prevent other people suffering in the way she did.

This week she was among E.coli victims invited to lend their weight to the Cardiff launch of a report from Consumer Focus Wales (CFW) into how public agencies deal with the disease.

CFW reviewed what actions have been taken in the year following Prof Hugh Pennington’s public inquiry on food safety.

And it says the Welsh Assembly Government should be spending an extra £2.5 million – £3m a year on carrying out its recommendations.

The review also calls for the Food Standards Agency to issue guidance making it clear that complex, hard-to-clean equipment should never be used for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.

Karen, who is planning to return to her job as a Wrexham librarian in a few weeks time, said: “The launch of the report was very interesting and I am glad I was invited.

"I would go along with the suggestion the Assembly should be spending more on making sure the Pennington recommendations are carried out. I believe not to do so is false economy.

“My treatment must have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and I am just one person – and that could have been saved with proper measures in place to prevent infections starting.

“It is also vitally important to keep raw and cooked meat separate. I still don’t know exactly how I got E.coli but it is quite clear that it somehow came from raw meat.”

Karen added: “Wrexham has a system called Scores on the Doors, which gives food premises a rating for their hygiene standards.

"However, I am sure that although it is on the council’s website, not too many people know about it.

"I believe food outlets, not just in Wrexham, should be given ratings and forced to display them in their premises where people can see them.

"As well as helping the public this would also help outlets with low ratings to improve their scores. Nobody should ever have to suffer like I did.”

Responding to the CFW report, the Welsh Assembly Government said: “We reject the accusation that we have not taken a stronger role in directing the response to the inquiry.

“A great deal of work has been done by the Assembly Government, NHS, Food Standards Agency and local authorities to reduce the risk of such events happening again.

“Ministers and senior officials continue to monitor progress of implementing the recommendations.”

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