Poorly cooked meat is a major cause of lost productivity in the Australian workplace, a scientist says.
Victoria Korolik, of the Griffith Institute for Glycomics, said around 200,000 Australians fell ill annually from a form of food poisoning caused by Campylobacter bacteria.
She said the bacteria was spread through contaminated meats, particularly poultry, unpasteurised milk and unchlorinated water.
Dr Korolik said the illness caused gastroenteritis which could be mild, or extremely severe, requiring a person to be hospitalised.
“They can end up with what’s called bloody dysentry, with high fever, secreting diarrhoea with blood and pus and mucous,” she said in an interview.
“Sometimes, not very frequently, you can have an after effect where people can become paralysed because their immune systems confuse nerve cells with bacteria.”
Dr Korolik said in Australia, the summer barbecue could be a source of the problem.
“People will undercook their meat, particularly their chicken,” Dr Korolik said.
“Or, they will cook their meat properly, and then contaminate it by putting it back in the same tray where they’ve held the raw meat.
“A very large proportion of people don’t observe basic hygiene.”
Dr Korolik said the cost of gastroenteritis caused by Campylobacter bacteria was enormous.
“People think, oh well, diarrhoea, what’s the big deal?” she said.
“But some people require two weeks of hospitalisation.”
Griffith University is co-hosting a meeting of 350 international researchers on Campylobacter bacteria and related organisms on the Gold Coast from Sunday