21 February 2000
Keep toddlers off farms — Pennington
By FWi staff
YOUNG children should be banned from visiting farms, claims a leading food safety expert.
Professor Hugh Pennington told the BBC Countryfile> programme that children under the age of five should not be allowed on farms because of the risk of E.coli infection.
He said: “Children have had such a hard time of it, it1s hardly worth exposing them to the risk.”
But John Newton-Jones, chairman of the National Farmers Union national farmers for schools group, says this is an over-reaction.
He told the Radio 4 Farming Today programme that the situation had been reviewed two years ago with the Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive.
All had agreed that provided correct precautions – proper supervision and handwashing facilities – are in place, under-fives can visit farms.
“No new evidence has come to light, to my knowledge, for Professor Pennington to come out with the statement he has,” said Mr Newton-Jones.
He added: “Weve now got 14 million people visiting farms each year and numbers are growing all the time.
“There is more risk of contracting these bugs in a public park or other public places.”
Prof Pennington led the inquiry into the outbreak of E.coli in Lanarkshire, which killed 18 people.
Last month, six-year Tom Dowling of north London, who contracted the bug and was severely brain-damaged following a visit to an open farm, was awarded a six-figure sum in settlement.
Total damages are expected to reach 2 million.
- Farm sued over brain-damaged boy, FWi, 17 January, 2000
- E.coli butcher in court, FWi, 21 October, 1997