News
for the month of November, 2012

Head injury leads to fine for components firm

5th of November 2012

A company which manufactures metal components has been fined after a young worker was seriously injured at its Lincoln factory.

The 20-year-old agency worker suffered a fractured skull and severe facial injuries when the grinding wheel broke on a hand-held grinder he was using. The wheel was thrown from the grinder and smashed through his visor, striking him in the face.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, which happened at the Tower Works site of Wyman-Gordon Ltd on Spa Road, Lincoln on 20 October 2010.

The man, who doesn’t wish to be named, underwent significant treatment for his injuries, including a five-hour operation to remove a piece of bone which was touching his brain, before further reconstructive surgery could be carried out. The man has since returned to work.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court was told today (17 Oct) that the HSE investigation found the agency worker had not been properly trained in the safe use of the hand-held grinder and the precautions to be taken when changing grinding wheels. The result was that a grinding wheel, which is likely to have been defective prior to use, was fitted to the grinder and subsequently used. This defect may have been identified had the agency worker received the correct abrasive wheels training. The investigation also found that he was not adequately supervised when carrying out work with the grinders.

Wyman-Gordon Ltd, of Wiggin Works, Holmer Road, Hereford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £16,500 and ordered it to pay full costs of £6,178.

Source

FSA e-News October 2012, out now- November 5th

5th of November 2012

FSA e -news is now available

e-news

Cut that melon, keep it chilled

5th of November 2012

Interesting article about melons.

As a food store manager for many years we were stopped from cutting melons in half in store to avoid such issues.

Yet another study confirms what’s been known for a long time: once cantaloupe is cut, it needs to be kept cold.
Which is why it is disconcerting at markets and megalomarts in Australia to see melons sliced in half, wrapped in plastic and sitting at ambient temperature, which can be a tad warm in Brisbane.
Abstract below:
The most recent outbreak of listeriosis linked to consumption of fresh-cut cantaloupes indicates the need to investigate the behavior of Listeria monocytogenes in the presence of native microflora of cantaloupe pieces during storage. Whole cantaloupes were inoculated with L. monocytogenes (108-CFU/ml suspension) for 10 min and air dried in a biosafety cabinet for 1 h and then treated (unwashed, water washed, and 2.5% hydrogen peroxide washed). Fresh-cut pieces (∼3 cm) prepared from these melons were left at 5 and 10°C for 72 h and room temperature (20°C) for 48 h. Some fresh-cut pieces were left at 20°C for 2 and 4 h and then refrigerated at 5°C. Microbial populations of fresh-cut pieces were determined by the plate count method or enrichment method immediately after preparation. Aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold of whole melon, and inoculated populations of L. monocytogenes on cantaloupe rind surfaces averaged 6.4, 3.3, and 4.6 log CFU/cm2, respectively. Only H2O2 (2.5%) treatment reduced the aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold, and L. monocytogenes populations to 3.8, 0.9, and 1.8 log CFU/cm2, respectively. The populations of L. monocytogenes transferred from melon rinds to fresh-cut pieces were below detection but were present by enrichment. Increased storage temperatures enhanced the lag phases and growth of L. monocytogenes. The results of this study confirmed the need to store fresh-cut cantaloupes at 5°C immediately after preparation to enhance the microbial safety of the fruit.

Source

Cleethorpes restaurant owner fined for food hygiene offences

5th of November 2012

A CLEETHORPES restaurant owner pleaded guilty to eight charges of food hygiene offences.

Husam Hassan, food business operator of La Bella, in the Market Place, pleaded guilty to food hygiene offenses following a failure to comply with a series of food safety management issues, including weaknesses in cleaning and food handling practices.

Grimsby Magistrates’ Court heard that, due to repeated failures to act on the advice and instruction given by North East Lincolnshire Council to fully implement a documented food safety management system, weaknesses in cleaning, structural maintenance and food handling practices were apparent.

A hygiene improvement notice was served in October 2011, giving Mr Hassan three months to implement an appropriate management system.

On expiry of the notice, a further inspection revealed that such a management system was still not in place and further hygiene offences were identified.

Mr Hassan was fined £500, ordered to pay £500 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Julie Moody, NELC’s principal environmental health officer, said the authority always endeavored to provide businesses with the information necessary to comply with the law.

“Mr Hassan appeared unwilling to adequately respond to our guidance and repeated warnings,” she said.

“There are very few premises where we ultimately have to take court action, but we have a duty to protect the public.”

Fresh meat produced in unapproved establishment

6th of November 2012

Fresh meat has been identified, which has been produced in an unapproved cutting establishment, unknown to the originating district council. The fresh meat includes vacuum-packed cuts of beef and lamb, which are unlabelled. The unapproved establishment, L&M Meats, Northern Ireland, has been closed by the originating district council and a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order has been granted by a Magistrates Court.
Investigation by the originating district council is ongoing. However, due to the nature of the activities at the unapproved establishment, it has not been possible to obtain full distribution details or product traceability records for meat supplied from the establishment. There is known distribution to retail and wholesale establishments in the Republic of Ireland, however, it is possible that there may be distribution to establishments in Northern Ireland.
Identification of the product
The vacuum-packed cuts of meat supplied by L&M Meats, Northern Ireland, are not labelled with any information to assist with identification of the products. The information currently available indicates that the products are supplied to other establishments by L&M Meats, Northern Ireland.
Actions to be taken by district douncils
As the fresh meat was processed in an unapproved cutting establishment, it does not comply with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004, which lays down the specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin, and it fails to comply with the Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.
District councils are requested to check, during the course of routine visits to establishments in their area, for the supply of fresh meat by L&M Meats, Northern Ireland. Any fresh meat established as having been supplied from this source should be withdrawn from sale and destroyed. If necessary, the powers under Regulation 25 of the Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and the Food Safety (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 should be used.
In the event of a district council finding evidence of supply of fresh meat from this source, the council is requested to inform the FSA in Northern Ireland immediately, and provide details of the consignment. Please send any relevant information toincidents.ni@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk.

Source

Majority back food inspection levels

8th of November 2012

A poll of EHN Online readers has revealed strong support for maintaining current levels of food safety inspections, after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was considering allowing local authorities to relax their inspection regimes.

Around 70 per cent voting in the poll said the frequency of food safety inspections should not be relaxed.

The FSA is currently reviewing the food law code of practice (COP) and has suggested that local authorities be given more room to decide how often to inspect premises.

EHN’s poll results, based on responses from more than 150 readers, suggest some EHPs do not want to see a reduction in inspections as councils struggle to cope with budget cuts to environmental health departments.

CIEH principal policy officer Jenny Morris said she supported a risk-based approach to inspection and intervention.

She added: ‘As such we would want to see that the review of the COP includes detailed consideration of the frequency of inspection calculator to ensure it properly assesses risk.

‘This consideration should be evidence based and consider the linkage to food-borne illness. It will also be important to consider the wide range of interventions available – inspections are not the only tool.

‘Critical to any change must be the commitment to use competent inspectors to ensure effective public protection.’

A spokesperson for the FSA said the poll question did not ‘provide the right focus’ but that with severe financial pressures on councils the frequency of inspections needed to be examined.

She said: ‘Many authorities are reviewing the delivery of their food regulatory services and considering how they can best protect public health. The agency has made clear its intention to deliver improved risk and outcome-based regulatory enforcement practice under its compliance and enforcement strategy, which seeks greater focus of regulatory effort in tackling high risk/non-compliant businesses.

‘The discussion needs to centre not on “reducing inspections”, but rather on ensuring the system allows the right level of resources to be directed at non-compliant businesses rather than those that present a lower risk to public health.

‘The agency is considering possible amendments to the risk-rating scheme at Annex 5 of the Code to help ensure local authorities can direct their resources in the most effective way to improve compliance. Proposed changes will of course be developed with representative bodies and fully consulted on.’

Source

Improvements in food hygiene standards across Wales

10th of November 2012

In the two years since the introduction of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in Wales, hygiene standards in food businesses are improving.

Recent data shows that currently more than 83% of businesses have a rating of 3, 4 or 5, compared with about 77% this time last year and there has been a decline in those businesses that have been given a low rating of 0, 1 or 2, from 23% in September 2011 to about 17% now.

Since October 2010, local authorities have inspected and rated about 20,000 food businesses across Wales and it is anticipated that by the end of this year, more than 90% of food businesses in Wales will have a rating. Ratings can be found online at: food.gov.uk/ratings or can be accessed on the move, for free via the app for Android and iPhone.

teve Wearne, Director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales, said: ‘These findings are encouraging and show that the scheme is having the desired effect of driving up standards of food hygiene in businesses across Wales, but work doesn’t stop here.’There is still room for improvement as every business is capable of achieving a rating of 5. Food safety officers will follow up with 0, 1 and 2 rated businesses to help them improve their rating. Importantly as well, consumers now have information to help them make informed choices about where they eat or buy food. Many businesses are displaying their stickers. If your favourite restaurant or takeaway isn’t, you should ask them for their rating.’

The Agency is working closely with the Welsh Government to build on the success of the scheme. The Welsh Government’s Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Bill proposes introduction of a mandatory requirement for food business operators to display their rating stickers from late 2013.

Source

STOKE AND MILTON KEYNES LAUNCH THE FHRS

16th of November 2012

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Milton Keynes Council have rolled out the FSA’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. More than 170 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now publishing ratings at food.gov.uk/ratings.

Full Story

Belfast pizzeria fined over food safety

18th of November 2012

The former proprietor of a Northern Ireland pizzeria has been fined for food hygiene offences.

Ciaran Kelly, who ran Kelstar Pizzeria on Shaw’s Road in west Belfast, was fined £1,400 also ordered to pay costs of £66 in relation to the 14 offences which were detected by Belfast City Council’s environmental health staff during visits between September 15, 2010 and January 6, 2011.

During the visits, the structure of the premises and some equipment was found to be dirty and in disrepair. This included holes in the walls in food preparation areas, damage to ceiling tiles, and the inside of a fridge was in a state of disrepair.

In addition, there were inadequate storage facilities for food waste resulting in an accumulation of waste to the rear of the premises.

There was no documented food safety management system in place and Mr Kelly had repeatedly failed to comply with a Hygiene Improvement Notice which had been served on him.

Belfast City Council confirmed to the court that the premises have ceased trading and a new food business operator has taken over the business.

Backyard chicken owners hurting birds

20th of November 2012

While TV celebs like Jamie Oliver and Bilie Piper are doing their best to promote this middle-class trend of keeping your own chickens, researchers have actually concluded that this is doing more harm than good.
A new study has found that backyard chicken-keepers have a lack of disease knowledge and insufficient awareness of laws needed to breed animals at home. Researchers concluded that owners consequently rarely vaccinate their animals, which could have serious implications on disease control and animal welfare. 

The Royal Veterinary College study found there was a low level of awareness in and around the Greater London area of diseases that could negatively affect birds’ welfare. According to its research, households have little knowledge of Marek’s disease, infectious laryngotracheitis and Infectious bronchitis, which have all been diagnosed in backyard flocks. 

The study also surveyed backyard spaces and while chickens were generally housed in good living conditions up to three in four did not comply with government regulations on using kitchen waste as feed. Since 2001 it has been illegal to feed such waste to farmed animals in Britain because some disease agents can survive in food products and facilitate the spread of disease. 

Feeding chickens with food such as chicken meat and eggs can spread viruses such as the Newcastle Disease, which can preserve its infection for weeks.

More

Rushmoor launches the FHRS

22nd of November 2012

Rushmoor Borough Council has rolled out the Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. More than 170 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now publishing over 135,000 ratings atfood.gov.uk/ratings.

Online health and safety tools 'reduce burden' on small businesses

23rd of November 2012

The Government’s drive to reduce bureaucracy for small and low-risk businesses has led to the launch of two online tools for managing health and safety in the workplace.

The Health and Safety Toolbox is the latest package of online guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It is said to bring together in one place everything a small, low-risk business could need to manage health and safety, and aims to make it easy to find relevant guidance on specific risks with a few clicks of the mouse.

The initiative builds on Health and Safety Made Simple which provides sufficient basic information for large numbers of low risk businesses. The package of guidance – developed by the HSE with the support of businesses – is designed to help business owners and employers avoid wasting time reading what they don’t need to, wasting money on unnecessary bureaucracy or resorting to hiring costly consultants.

The toolbox provides quick, simple guides and interactive tools on how to identify, assess and control common workplace hazards. It also sets out core health and safety issues relating to the type of business, its workforce and workplace, as well as information on manual handling, trip hazards and harmful substances.

The Toolbox and Health and Safety Made Simple are part of HSE’s work to make it simpler and clearer for businesses to understand, manage and control workplace risks.

Employment minister Mark Hoban said: “Small and low-risk businesses should be focusing their time on growing and becoming a success, not having to waste precious time and money on unnecessary bureaucracy. This Toolbox will make it quick and simple for businesses to discover everything they need to know about health and safety.”

The introduction of the Toolbox swiftly follows the launch of the Safe Start Up website from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which is a step-by-step guide that demystifies regulation for anyone setting up a small business. The simple tool walks people through the areas of health and safety they need to consider, in order to comply with the law and keep people healthy and safe.

So far, five occupations that are often set up as small businesses are available – hairdressing, floristry, complementary therapist, landscape gardeners and building contractor – but more are being continuously added to the site.

IOSH research and information services manager Jane White said: “Health and safety can sometimes get unfairly tarnished with the opinion that it’s a burden. But small businesses with fewer staff find lost-time due to work-related injury and ill-health very costly, as productivity dramatically reduces. So it makes sense to get health and safety right, help their business thrive.”

Safe Start Up goes live as part of ‘Better Business for All’ – an initiative from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), set up in Leicestershire, to respond to the Government’s priority of reducing regulatory burden on business.

‘Better Business for All’ is aimed specifically at business start ups, providing a website where entrepreneurs can find guidance, advice, tools and resources to help demystify a host of regulations associated with setting up a company, fostering growth in the process.

To access the HSE’s new Toolbox, visit www.hse.gov.uk and follow the prompts on the right of the homepage. The Safe Start Up website is available at www.iosh.co.uk/safestartup

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EHOs to be given new powers

24th of November 2012

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said plans to allow EHOs to immediately close down unsafe food businesses without recourse to the courts will not prove a burden on industry.

But concerns have been raised that the FSA may not have the resources to advertise the new powers due to restrictions imposed by the Cabinet Office’s efficiency reform group.

Last month the FSA board voted to extend the use of remedial action notices (RANs) to all food establishments. Unlike emergency prohibition notices and orders, EHOs would be able to take action ‘stopping or reducing an activity’ without requiring approval from a magistrate.

Full Story

Five men sentenced over fake vodka plant

28th of November 2012

Five men who masterminded a major counterfeit vodka manufacturing and bottling plant in Leicestershire, were sentenced to a total of 17 years and ten months on Friday (25 November)at Hull Crown Court.

The men were all charged with Conspiracy to Cheat the Revenue. A sixth man will be sentenced on 5 December 2011.

The plot was uncovered in an industrial unit by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) when they carried out raids in September 2009. They seized 9,000 bottles of fake vodka, branded as Glen’s, manufacturing equipment, bottles and counterfeit packaging – labels and cardboard boxes, at the remote industrial unit at Moscow Farm near Great Dalby, Leicestershire.

The court heard there was a complete lack of any fire safety measures which posed a serious and life threatening hazard. The alcohol vapour alone could have triggered a major explosion if the lights had been switched on or a naked flame or cigarette had been lit.

Simon De Kayne, assistant director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:
“This was a substantial production, bottling and distribution plant with the infrastructure to distribute large quantities of counterfeit Glen’s vodka throughout the country. But it was set up without any thought for the safety of those working there or in the area nearby.

“The gang were fully aware the counterfeit vodka they manufactured contained highly dangerous chemicals making it unfit for human consumption, but were interested only in making a profit at the expense of British taxpayers. The revenue loss to the Exchequer on this haul alone was £1.5 million.”

Judge J Sampson, on sentencing the men, said: “This was fraud on an industrial scale. You set out to make as many bottles as humanly possible. If not discovered it would have gone on and the duty loss would have been unquantifiable.”

The bottles of vodka seized featured professionally printed labels, duty stamps and bottle tops – all of which were counterfeit. In the raid over 25,000 litres of pure denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) was seized, enough to make around 100,000 bottles of vodka.

Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent is coloured purple to distinguish it from drinkable alcohol as it is not fit for human consumption. Bleach was used by the gang to remove the colouring to make it clear before diluting to the required strength.

Evidence revealed that at least a further 165,000 bottles of fake vodka were manufactured at Moscow Farm during 2008 and 2009.

Rise in self-employed construction deaths

28th of November 2012

Figures obtained by construction union UCATT show that there was a large increase in construction fatalities involving self-employed workers last year.

In total there were 49 construction deaths in 2011/12 of which the Health and Safety Executive has recorded that 22 involved self-employed workers – 45% of all construction fatalities.

In 2010/11, 36% of construction deaths involved self-employed workers and in the last seven years the previous highest number of construction deaths involving self-employed workers was in 2008/09 when 38% of fatalities were self-employed workers.

Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “This rise in deaths among self-employed workers is very worrying. Self-employed workers frequently work on sites where safety levels are lower and are therefore more vulnerable to suffering an accident or injury.”

While the number of self-employed workers being killed has increased, UCATT believes that the figure could still be an underestimate, as on occasion self-employed workers are recorded as employees in order to improve the chance of a successful prosecution following a work-related death.

The rise in deaths of self-employed construction workers comes at a particularly sensitive time as the HSE at the Government’s direction is currently consulting on removing some self-employed workers from health and safety legislation. While these proposals do not currently include construction UCATT is concerned that the policy will be extended in the future, as part of the Government’s desire to ‘cut red tape’.

Mr Murphy added: “Every one of these deaths was an individual tragedy and many could easily have been prevented. Rather than cutting safety, the Government should be ensuring that existing laws are properly enforced.”

Source