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27/09/2013 12:00 a.m.
Friday 27 September 2013
With three new cases of Hepatitis A confirmed this week, Ashburton District Council is strongly advising local food outlets to maintain good hygiene and to have staff vaccinated to ensure food outlets do not contribute to the spread of the disease.
Council Environmental Monitoring Manager Rick Catchpowle says "In general, good hygiene and vaccination are the keys to preventing the spread of Hepatitis A, and it is especially important that food outlets take this on board."
Council's environmental monitoring team is working with Canterbury District Health Board staff to contact all food outlets in the district to ensure they are aware of the need for precautions are taken to ensure they do not become a source of infection.
Council staff have emailed all food outlets with information and are now in the process of contacting all outlets by phone to push the hygiene and vaccination message.
To date, Council is aware of 10 food outlets in the district which have staff vaccinated against Hepatitis A. The levels of vaccination vary between businesses with some having all food handling staff vaccinated and others working towards this.
Mr Catchpowle says there are almost certainly other businesses with staff vaccinated but until Council and CDHB staff are able to talk with the right person at each business this information is difficult to capture.
While Council is currently unable to require food outlets vaccinate all staff Mr Catchpowle says this is very much the message being pushed.
"If you are in the food business we strongly urge both vaccination and high standards of hygiene," he said.
Council and CDHB staff will be continuing to contact local food outlets and to push the vaccination message while the outbreak remains an issue.