Farm attractions step up hygiene message

SUFFOLK'S family friendly farms are today reinforcing the message of good hygiene in the wake of a possible rule change over petting issues.The Department of Health has said that a committee is looking into the possibility of updating guidelines on whether children under five should have contact with animals on petting farms following a national outbreak of the bug, E.

SUFFOLK'S family friendly farms are today reinforcing the message of good hygiene in the wake of a possible rule change over petting issues.

The Department of Health has said that a committee is looking into the possibility of updating guidelines on whether children under five should have contact with animals on petting farms following a national outbreak of the bug, E.coli.

This comes after more cases of E.coli were identified, bringing the total number to 57 cases across the UK in the last few weeks.

Microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington has called on the Health and Safety Executive to review the guidelines on petting farm animals and introduce a minimum age.

Richard Storer, one of the partners from Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, in Mill Lane, Baylham, claims the dangers of the bug can be simply controlled by washing hands after touching the animals.

He said: “We advise children to wash their hands and we have plenty of hand cleansing facilities around the farm.

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“It depends on how safe you want your children to be. There has to be a balance between common sense and knowing the dangers. “There is a danger with E.coli but it can be controlled. If parents don't trust their children not to put their hands in their mouths after touching animals, they shouldn't go to farms.”

Easton Park Farm near Woodbridge also said it has several cleansing stations around the farm together with reminders about the importance of washing hands.

Professor Pennington claimed that under-fives were at most risk, and that parents should “think very hard” about allowing such young children to pet cattle, goats and sheep.

E.coli, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, can be dangerous in young children because they cannot cope with much fluid loss.

Are you concerned about your child catching E.Coli? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.