News
for the month of March, 2012

UK food safety authorities have issued a warning to food processors over chemicals from Northern Ireland based chemical company

1st of March 2012

UK food safety authorities have issued a warning to food processors over the use of food grade chemicals from a Northern Ireland-based distributor following the death of a woman in Italy. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a precautionary warning

Dead rat among items found in food

1st of March 2012

A dead rat in a bag of bananas and meatballs packed with a nut and washer were among the not-so-tasty treats discovered by Irish consumers last year.

A rubber tube in a loaf of bread, a dead spider in baby formula and an orange full of maggots were also some of the foreign objects found in food.

More than 2,400 complaints were made to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in 2011 – with 966 about unfit food. Grievances included food contaminated with live and dead insects, a tooth, a false nail, pieces of metal and a plaster, with many relating to food sold past its ‘best-before’ date.

Edel Conway, FSAI information manager, said consumers are more vigilant than ever.

“They expect and are entitled to adequate standards of food hygiene in every food establishment and across every food product they purchase,” she said. “The potential health risks posed when poor food safety and hygiene standards are not met by food businesses can be serious, but are easily avoidable.

“Poor standards can be the result of a shoddy approach or ignorance where a food business has not made a priority to ensure they are following best practices to safeguard their customers’ health.”

Figures show a further 497 complaints were about suspect food poisoning, with 446 on hygiene standards, 137 over incorrect information in food labelling, 37 about incorrect advertising of food products and 332 on other matters. She said all complaints received were individually followed up and investigated.

Elsewhere 8,750 calls to the FSAI’s advice line related to advice on food labelling, legal requirements for starting up a food business, food safety training information, food legislation, and requests for FSAI publications.

Ms Conway said there is no excuse for a food business to have poor standards across any area of its production processes.

“Our advice line is not only a service for consumer complaints, but also acts as an important resource tool for the food industry, where our experts are available to assist food business owners and managers raise their standards with the best available advice,” she added.

More-www.joe.ie/easygoing-joe/dumb-it-down/what-can-you-find-in-irish-food-dead-rodents-and-insects-if-youre-really-unlucky

Related stories- www.independent maggots-and-mites-spark-13pc-rise-in-food-complaints-

Bath and North East Somerset, and West Berkshire join the FHRS

1st of March 2012

Bath and North East Somerset Council and West Berkshire Council have rolled out the Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Nearly 190 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now publishing more than 150,000 ratings at food.gov.uk/ratings.

Other local authorities will be rolling out the scheme over the next few months.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places you eat, as well as in supermarkets and other food shops.

Eat Safe Awards for city businesses

4th of March 2012

Businesses in Aberdeen which have strived for food hygiene and food safety management standards beyond those required by law will be recognised during an event at the Atholl Hotel, King’s Gate’s, on Monday [05 March].

The Eat Safe Award is granted by Aberdeen City Council’s Environmental Health Service in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency. In Scotland the award is available to all establishments selling food directly to consumers.

The main aim of the scheme is to provide an incentive to food businesses to strive for food hygiene and food safety management standards beyond those required by law. It also helps consumers make informed choices about where to eat out by providing a recognisable ‘sign’ of excellence in standards of food hygiene.

Eligible establishments are assessed for the award as part of scheduled food hygiene inspections undertaken by officers from the Environmental Health Service.

Some 28 establishments in Aberdeen have achieved Eat Safe status and their efforts will be recognised at Monday’s event.

Aberdeen City Council principal environmental health officer, Andrea Carson said: “The Eat Safe award is only presented to businesses that have achieved hygiene standards beyond those required by law so their commitment has to be commended.

“I would encourage all businesses within the city to aim for this award as it provides them with a valuable tool to reassure their customers of a continuing commitment to produce food safely.”

Full Story

Local health inequalities grow

5th of March 2012

The health gap between the rich and poor has widened in most of the English local authorities due to take over public health duties next year.

Research released by Professor Michael Marmot on the second anniversary of his landmark public health review shows the life expectancy of the rich is growing faster than in the life expectancy of the poor in 104 of the 150 upper tier authorities across England.

‘Life expectancy continues to increase for most people, but inequalities in life expectancy persist between communities with different levels of deprivation,’ said Prof Marmot.

The government, he added, must focus on improving the health for the majority of the population to level the ‘social gradient’ of health.

In Westminster men in wealthy neighborhoods can expect to live nearly 17 years longer than men in poor neighborhoods. In Stockton-on-Tees the gap was just over 15 years and in Newcastle it was nearly 14 years.

Most upper tier local authorities saw an increase in the number of children reaching ‘a good level’ of educational development by the time they start school, with 59 per cent meeting the benchmark standard assessed by teachers. But Prof Marmot said it was no cause for celebration because 41 per cent were still not able to share, self-motivate, co-operate and concentrate by their fifth birthday.

‘We’ve got these huge inequalities which means that we are failing our children on a grand scale. It matters to their health. It matters to their wellbeing. It matters to the productivity of the country and it matters to the sort of society we want,’ said Prof Marmot.

David Kidney, CIEH head of policy, urged the government to provide more resources to local authorities than currently given to primary care trusts (PCTs) to tackle health inequalities.

Steve Naldrett of Ardan Training Consultancy commented ” We at Ardan are currently working with Pharmacies locally, promoting the `Healthy Living Pharmacy Concept`. Pharmacies are at the forefront of the  fight to try to promote healthy living amongst populations.”

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Powers of entry restrictions ‘crazy’

6th of March 2012

The Local Government Association (LGA) has lobbied the government amid fears that EHOs could be prevented from carrying out on-the-spot food business inspections.

Following reports in EHN online that amendments to the Protection of Freedoms Bill in the House of Lords could remove certain powers of entry from EHOs and other council officers, the LGA said the government must not allow ‘this crazy clampdown’ from becoming law.

Mehboob Khan, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘It is vital that when complaints about food poisoning, rat infestations or other safety concerns are made, environmental health teams can investigate and tackle the problem immediately.

‘Putting obstacles in the way of protecting public safety would be ludicrous, unnecessary and a significant threat to people’s health.

‘These new curbs could mean a dirty, unhygienic takeaway serving dodgy chicken might inflict food poisoning on hundreds more customers while inspectors spend hours or even days waiting for permission to enter.

‘Existing legislation already safeguards to ensure powers of entry are not inappropriately used. We are not talking about entering people’s homes here, but monitoring the standard of businesses across the country which collectively serve food to millions of people.’

Garden centre fined £28,000 for serious food and safety offences

12th of March 2012

A SALTASH garden centre has been landed with a £28,000 bill after Cornwall Council’s health inspectors found a number of food and safety offences.

At Bodmin Magistrates earlier this week Tamar View Nurseries Ltd, in Carkeel, Saltash, pleaded guilty to eight serious food and health and safety offences and was fined £21,000. They were also ordered to pay £7,038 towards Cornwall Council’s legal costs. The offences were discovered by the council’s Public Health and Protection officers during routine inspections of the site.

  1. Tamar View Nurseries

    Tamar View Nurseries

The council spokesman said the owner was questioned about health and safety offences in relation to LPG gas storage, working at height and food safety matters which included issues of cleanliness in the kitchen and cross-contamination of stored foods.

The spokesman said the company’s food safety management system was also found not to be being operated correctly. The court heard the company had put the safety of both public and its own staff at risk due to breaches of health and safety and food safety law.

In mitigation the firm said they had now fully taken on board the company’s responsibility under food and health and safety law and had engaged a health and safety consultant to help them ensure appropriate standards were maintained from now on. They had also appointed a new chef to oversee the improvement in standards in the kitchen. The company also pointed out that until this time they had a very good record in relation to both food safety and health and safety and pointed out that no one had actually been injured or been made ill.

Lance Kennedy, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for Community Safety and Public Protection said: “The fines awarded by the magistrates reflect the seriousness of this case.”

Full story

Following the hearing a spokesman for Tamar View Nurseries said: “We have employed the professional services of Safety Cornwall Ltd, who are very pleased to reassure everyone that the whole of our premises now operate to an exemplary standard of hygiene and safety, with every confidence that it will remain this way.”

E. coli school to shut for a week

13th of March 2012

A primary school at the centre of an e.coli outbreak will remain closed for at least another week.
Parents at Friarswood Primary School, in Newcastle, have been told about the extended closure via email.
It is to allow more time to deep-clean the school and analyse samples taken from pupils.
Headteacher Lindsey Wilmer told parents at the weekend: “The cleaning and testing will take longer than expected. It will be necessary for the school to remain closed for at least the whole of next week. We are constantly reviewing the situation.”
Three pupils have been diagnosed with confirmed strains of E.coli 0157. The school has been ruled out as the source of the outbreak.

Full Story

Food businesses targeted by bogus calls

18th of March 2012

The Food Standards Agency is warning food businesses to be on their guard following a recent spate of bogus phone calls from someone claiming to be employed by the FSA.

The Agency has been alerted to a number of incidents involving pub chains in Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster and Lincolnshire that have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the FSA. The caller says an environmental health officer (EHO) will make a visit in the next fortnight to update the pub’s manager on new food legislation and asks for their mobile phone number. They then say they will text the manager within 48 hours of the visit to confirm arrangements.

Visits to food businesses are arranged by local authorities, not the FSA, and most hygiene inspections are unannounced, with EHOs introducing themselves once they arrive at the business.

Cathy Alexander, Head of the FSA’s Food Fraud Branch, said: ‘The FSA takes all food fraud activity extremely seriously. We do not make calls to food businesses on behalf of food law enforcement officers and the person, or people, making these calls is not from the FSA. We’re monitoring the situation and urge businesses to be on their guard.’

Full Story

Sign up for food award

18th of March 2012

ANGUS food businesses are being offered an opportunity to boost their reputation through a prestigious awards scheme.

The Eat Safe award recognises excellence in food hygiene and food safety management.

Businesses who achieve Eat Safe status join a select group of establishments which have met standards of food hygiene over and above those required by current food hygiene legislation.

The national scheme is administered by the Food Standards Agency and awarded locally by Angus Council.

Eligible establishments are assessed for the Eat Safe Award as part of scheduled food hygiene inspections carried out by environmental health officers. Those businesses who meet legal requirements receive a pass award, but to achieve the Eat Safe award they must also show evidence of food hygiene training.

The council’s spokesman on environmental health issues Councillor David May said: “The Eat Safe award is a powerful marketing tool as all award holders are listed on the Food Standards Agency website, and council websites.

“This enables customers to check their standards before they eat or book their holiday, promoting Angus businesses at home and further afield.”

As part of the council’s commitment to assist local businesses in achieving the Eat Safe award, the environmental health service offers a variety of food hygiene courses accredited by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.

Full Story

Chesterfield, Derby, Knowsley and Nottingham launch the FHRS

19th of March 2012

Chesterfield Borough Council, Derby City Council, Knowsley Council and Nottingham City Council have rolled out the Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Nearly 200 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now publishing nearly 170,000 ratings atfood.gov.uk/ratings.

Other local authorities will be rolling out the scheme over the next few months.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places you eat, as well as in supermarkets and other food shops.

New date for health and safety cost recovery scheme

24th of March 2012

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today announced that its cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention, is going ahead but will now not start in April 2012.

The scheme sets out to recover costs from those who break health and safety laws for the time and effort HSE spends on helping to put matters right – investigating and taking enforcement action.

Law-abiding businesses will be free from costs and will not pay a penny.

Gordon MacDonald, HSE’s programme director, said:

“The Government has agreed that it is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse.

“The Government intends to proceed with the FFI scheme as recommended to ministers by HSE’s Board in December in response to the formal consultation that took place last Summer.

“Discussions are still taking place on the technical details of the scheme, which we expect to conclude soon.

“Therefore, FFI will not be introduced in April but at the next available opportunity, which is likely to be October 2012.”

HSE is taking advantage of the extra time to work further with businesses to improve their understanding of the scheme and how it will affect them.

Detailed guidance for employers and organisations will be available on HSE’s website ahead of implementation.

Full Story

FSA launches Capability Review

24th of March 2012

The Food Standards Agency has launched a Capability Review to ensure the organisation is delivering on its core objective to protect the public’s health and consumer interests in relation to food and feed. The Capability Review will assess the FSA’s performance against a framework that covers strategy, delivery and leadership.

Capability Reviews are conducted by all government departments to assess their performance and ensure that they are equipped to meet their objectives, to identify improvements and are prepared for future challenges.

more

Protecting consumers from E.coli O157

29th of March 2012

A statement on progress on the implementation of the Pennington Report in Wales and related food safety issues
The FSA should:
work with local authorities to ensure there is a common understanding of how the presence of an acceptable food management system is scored as part of an inspection
consult with Professor Pennington to ensure work on the above recommendation takes account of his interpretation of his 2009 recommendation on food management systems
ensure that all local authorities record whether a food business has a food safety management system in place
review its FHRS monitoring data annually and report on the number of businesses without a working food safety management system in place in order that progress on this issue can be monitored
examine why local authorities have not taken up FSA funding in full and identify ways to address this
use the evidence gathered during research with local authorities and food businesses to inform representations to change legislation at a European level to require separation of equipment
work to ensure that EHOs understand what the extension of Remedial Action Notices mean in practise and support where appropriate their use
monitor and record numbers of local authorities that use these new powers (Remedial Action Notices) as part of their enforcement monitoring data
report publically on their findings of their audit of local authority post Pennington action plans
work with the Welsh Heads of Environmental Health Food Safety Technical Panel to ensure that there is a common understanding of how and when to notify senior management within public authorities (local authorities, health board and other relevant agencies) where premises that receive funding from those agencies are identified as receiving a food hygiene inspection rating of two or below
The Welsh Government should:
ensure that the Food Law Review takes account of the resource implications of changes to the Food Law Code of Practice
work with the FSA and local authorities to identify other ways in which fixed penalty notices can be used to support food safety enforcement
publish the findings of the FSA food law review in Wales at the earliest opportunity
consider as part of their food law review an assessment of extent to which local authorities currently audit school toilet facilities and subject to these findings, place responsibilities on local authorities to undertake such audits
The Welsh Government and the FSA should:
ensure that all institutions which receive public funding and serve food to the public are meeting statutory requirements for food hygiene
Local authorities should:
consider how they can achieve greater take up of any support they seek to put in place locally for businesses using FSA money, including making attending sessions a requirement for business that are less than broadly compliant, as part of their action plans
publicise their plans more widely in an accessible way
ensure they notify senior management within the Local Health Board where a hospital premises serving food receives a food hygiene inspection rating of two or below
Local Health Boards should:
take immediate action to work closely with EHOs where their premises are rated as failing to meet acceptable hygiene standards

Visit http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/wales/files/2012/03/Ecoli-statement2012final.pdf
for full story

FSA E-NEWS MARCH 2012

31st of March 2012

The Food Standards Agency E-NEWS MARCH 2012 has been published.

 

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