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Yersinia in food


Last updated: 24 December 2020

What is it?

  • Yersinia is a type of bacteria that can be found in the gut of pets, livestock and wild animals
  • Yersinia can get into soil, water and food from the faeces (poo) of animals, for example from grazing animals or manure fertiliser
  • Foods at higher risk of contamination are pork, unpasteurised milk and raw vegetables

What's the risk?

  • Yersinia can cause a type of gastro called yersiniosis
  • Anyone can get yersiniosis but young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are at highest risk

Reduce your risk

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and dry them before preparing or eating food
  • Cook pork thoroughly before eating, especially pork mince and sausages
  • Make sure you store meat in the fridge at 5°C or cooler
  • Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly under running water
  • Avoid cross contamination – for example, use separate cutting boards and knives for raw and ready-to-eat food, and store cooked food separately from raw foods

Symptoms of yersiniosis

  • Symptoms usually start 4-7 days after eating contaminated food
  • Common symptoms are fever, diarrhoea (often bloody in young children) and abdominal pain, sometimes like appendicitis. Some people get joint pain and rashes
  • Symptoms generally occur for one to three weeks


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