Media release: 1 May 2016

The Food Safety Information Council is using May Day to put out an SOS call to save Food Safety Week with a crowdfunding appeal.

Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said there are an estimated 15.9 million cases of gastroenteritis in Australia each year and a quarter of these are due to food poisoning.

‘We are calling on Australians to share their ‘Gastro Nightmare’ story with us on social media. Did that bout of gastro spoil your sporting chance, make you miss a family milestone, affect a holiday of a lifetime or even ruin your wedding?

‘One of the worst stories we have been told over the years was one of a self-catered outback wedding where the groom’s friends picked up cold cooked prawns from their local town and drove the food back in a hot car. Having warmed up the prawns in a simmer curry sauce, they then tasted their culinary delight and were violently ill overnight – yet they still served the prawn curry to sicken the wedding guests the next day. We never did find out if the marriage lasted after that gastro nightmare!

‘We’d like to hear your story and also ask you to donate to our appeal to ensure the 20th Food Safety Week can still go ahead in November 2016. Since 1997 the Council has been helping consumers with simple tips on how to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Between 2000 and 2010 the incidence of food poisoning has reduced by 200,000 cases a year.

‘However the loss of Federal Government funding in 2014 has left us with greatly reduced income, to the extent that we may not be able to run Food Safety Week and our educational campaigns this year. This is tragic as the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year result in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors.

‘Your tax deductable donations will help us to do the following:

  • $30 will help us answer consumer enquiries about what to do if they have food poisoning
  • $50 will help us get out messages through the media during food poisoning outbreaks such as the recent bean sprout and lettuce salmonella cases and last year’s frozen berries Hepatitis A crisis.
  • $100 will help us reduce deaths from Listeria infection that can be fatal to unborn babies, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses
  • $150 will help us get out emergency messages during fires, floods & power outages
  • $200 will help make our website responsive so people can access our vital information on mobile phones.

‘The enthusiasm of our members, who donated their time, helped make our 2015-16 campaign enormously successful with 56 news items that reached 12,098,793 unique viewers on news websites during Food Safety Week 2015.

‘Our radio announcements with food safety messages generated 1,065 spots on 20 capital city stations and 5,838 spots broadcast on rural, regional and remote stations. Our TV announcement ran on all commercial and pay TV stations from November 2015 until the end of January 2016. 31% of Australians polled nationally recalled seeing a food safety message in this period.

‘We would really like to continue this life saving service to consumers but desperately need cash contributions to continue to operate,’ Ms Williams concluded.

Media contact:

Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or