Unexpected extras hard to stomach

19:21, Dec 26 2013

Band-aids, glass and bugs are some of the nasty discoveries people have found in a mouthful of food.

More than 140 New Zealanders got more than they bargained for in their grub over the past year, finding an unwanted "foreign object".

Finding such a surprise was one of the most common reasons people made a complaint about food to the Ministry for Primary Industries, information released under the Official Information Act shows.

Kiwis struck down with tummy bugs also made a high number of complaints. Out of the almost 600 lodged this year, 160 were for bacterial illnesses and spoiled or undercooked food.

About two food complaints are made every day, though this increased to three in July and August this year.

The holiday season was the most common time of year people complained about an illness, MPI spokeswoman Julie Buchanan said.


Because of this, the ministry had launched a national radio campaign warning people to protect themselves against the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Almost 500 people each day were struck down with food poisoning, with cases rising over the summer. Reported cases of salmonella infections in January were almost three times as high as those in June, according to public health records. Wellington Hospital doctor Brad Peckler said while it was typically alcohol-related injuries or domestic violence bringing people into the emergency room over the holidays, they did see a small increase in patients with food poisoning.

Unpleasant as they are, most tummy bugs could be looked after at home, by drinking lots of water and sticking to bland foods such as bananas, rice and bread, the emergency room specialist said.

But doctor's advice was needed if a person found blood in their vomit or stool, a rash, severe pain, or others noticed they were acting out of sorts.

"It's time to seek help if they feel like they're getting behind on their fluids."

The Dominion Post