Petting zoos in UK to face new rules following health inquiry

Every time there is an outbreak of foodborne illness, some folks get together and say, here are the new rules that need to be followed so a bunch of kids don’t end up in hospital, like 27 of the 93 sickened by E. coli O157:H7 at Godstone Farm petting zoo in 2009 in the U.K. (two of those sick kids are pictured, right)

In Feb. 2010 when Godstone Farm reopened, manager Richard Oatway said,

"Lots of parents have been with us for a long time and they realize that E. coli can be present in many animals all the time.”

And lots of parents are really pissed, which is why 26 of them are have filed a lawsuit against the farm.

The Telegraph reports this morning that the investigation into the dangers posed by petting animals is expected to lead to strict new measures this week.

Farmers could have to stop opening their gates to the public amid increased regulations that could include demanding that people no longer touch the animals.

Prof George Griffin, a world expert on infectious diseases, began the investigation following an E .coli outbreak at a farm last year which led to 27 people, many of them children, requiring hospital treatment. He is due to make his recommendations this week when the report is published.

Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, said,

"If regulations become too excessive the danger is that many farms will be unwilling to welcome visitors. The risk of catching E. coli from a visit to an open farm is extremely low, particularly if children are encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly after touching animals."

Those handwashing signs, they’re not encouraging. Do better.

Gemma Weaver, 24, of Bramley Close, has vowed to "never forgive the farm" after her three-year-old son, Alfie suffered kidney failure following a visit to Godstone Farm.