Germany’s new food poisoning law

Image copyright gfphoto You will probably still get chicken salad and pasta salad in your supermarket or restaurant, despite a new German law making it mandatory. The bill – aimed at helping tackle the…

Germany's new food poisoning law

Image copyright gfphoto

You will probably still get chicken salad and pasta salad in your supermarket or restaurant, despite a new German law making it mandatory.

The bill – aimed at helping tackle the threat of childhood infectious diseases – means that people with food-related contact with chicken, for example, will need to receive vaccinations.

“This law is not just about food safety. It’s also about prevention,” said deputy health minister Jan Boreck of the city of Duisburg, one of the 10 German states taking part in the efforts.

A free guide from German public service broadcaster ZDF runs through the risks of common foodborne illnesses like salmonella and listeria – including why the eggs in many supermarket food products are sometimes not safe.

The guide is aimed not only at customers but also farmers who don’t vaccinate their animals against viral diseases, to guarantee they will spread infection in any case.

Image copyright microsoft Image caption Microsoft engineer Michael Abe points out that just entering the words “pi” or “calumet” into a search engine can indicate there is a presence of the measles

Although children have to be vaccinated against many viral diseases, doctors do not always provide all of them to parents. The risk factors the law aims to protect against may be closely linked to the vaccinations. For example, measles, mumps and rubella are much easier to control if a person is not first exposed to the viruses, say experts.

The law has strong support from public and religious organisations but the IT industry is not very keen on the initiative.

A company that provides software to computer dealers and supermarkets said there was little evidence that the vast majority of people who used those offices were behind the decision to be vaccinated against viral diseases like measles.

“If it were necessary for a particular association, it would be up to them to make the decision. We have no problem with vaccination,” said Gregory Brugger, a spokesman for Randstad Niew.

And in an ironic twist, the Christian Social Union, the party which is Germany’s sister to Britain’s Conservatives, sponsored the bill on protecting public health.

The application of the law will be voluntary for all businesses unless a child lives in the house. For instance, when children are staying overnight with a family member they will need to get vaccinated against viral diseases, including measles.

Food is not the only area where the law is getting a mixed reaction in Germany. It also applies to all care homes and kindergartens and healthcare workers for which there are more than 2,000 places to be found for children who are not already vaccinated.

The law is aimed at boosting childhood immunisation rates from a 2015 low of 73% to at least 85% in the coming years.

The rules say that children over the age of three are entitled to immunisation for some infection or disease.

Childcare centres and boardrooms are exempt from the law. However, religious beliefs and personal practices are not. “The government must look after those who don’t want to be vaccinated,” said Ulrich Schoenaeppel, chairman of the Dietrich Bech foundation which aims to counter widespread misconceptions about vaccinations.

As for the vast majority of parents, there is no more room for ambivalence when it comes to their children’s vaccination.

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