for the month of April, 2013

Update on Agency’s beef product survey

12th of April 2013

The FSA has confirmed results for four of the remaining five samples relating to the Agency’s UK-wide sampling programme of beef products. All five of the products were withdrawn from sale following receipt of the first test results.
Two of the four samples have been found to contain horse DNA at or above the 1% threshold for reporting. Neither product was found to contain the veterinary drug bute (phenylbutazone) or pig DNA.
Products confirmed as containing horse meat above 1%
Burger: purchased from Nefyn Pizza & Kebab House in Gwynedd and manufactured by the Burger Manufacturing Company (BMC)
Beefburger: purchased from Pig Out in Walsall and manufactured by King Fry Meat Products Ltd
The two other samples, which did not contain horse DNA, were also tested for the presence of pig DNA. These results have now been confirmed as below 1%. Neither product was labelled as halal or kosher. This leaves one result still to be reported.
Separately, on 26 March, the Agency advised that a Whitbread burger had tested positive for horse DNA above 1%. The FSA has now received further test results that have confirmed the level of DNA to be under the reporting threshold. However, Whitbread will remain on the list of brands named on the FSA’s consumer advice webpage (which can be accessed via the link on the right) as it has reported other positive results as part of the testing carried out by the food industry.
The Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2013 and parallel legistation in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, made under the Food Safety Act 1990, specify the procedures to be followed when a sample is analysed. The regulations also detail the role of the Government Chemist.
Formal samples consist of three identical parts:
The first is sent by the local authority to the Public Analyst for testing. There are three possible elements of this phase of testing – the initial screening test and, if the presence of either horse or pig DNA is confirmed, a further test to confirm the quantity of the DNA. The final test would be to check for the presence of bute. If the screening test is negative, no further tests are needed at this stage.
The second part of the sample may be sent by retailers or manufacturers for their own independent tests.
Where there is a disparity in the two results, or the original result is disputed, the remaining sample is sent to the independent Government Chemist (in LGC) for a final test and an analysis of the methodology in the two previous tests. This is to try and determine why there may have been different results. The Government Chemist issues a certificate of analysis, which may or may not confirm the original test results, and can be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
These regulations ensure a fair, formal and representative process which allows businesses the opportunity to challenge the results.
Further analysis may be carried out on these samples at a later stage. However, the Government Chemist has advised the FSA that even if further analysis were undertaken it would be very unlikely that the findings would reverse or alter their opinions on the certificates already issued.

£300 fine for Darlington pub hit by food poisoning outbreak

12th of April 2013

A PUB at the centre of salmonella outbreak that saw more than 30 people fall ill, including six who were hospitalised, has been hit with a £300 fine.
Philip Armstrong, who runs the Copper Beech, in Darlington, appeared before magistrates in the town on Wednesday (April 3).
Mr Armstrong had previously denied placing unsafe food on the market, arguing that he had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the outbreak, but changed his plea to guilty at the most recent hearing.
The charge, under environmental health legislation, relates to a period between June 2 and 19 last year, when diners at the pub, in Neasham Road, fell ill with salmonella food poisoning after eating there.



Selfridges raw milk case dropped

13th of April 2013

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has dropped its prosecution of Selfridges after the retailer pledged it would not sell raw milk.

The FSA said Selfridges had given assurances it would not stock raw milk until the risks had been assessed.

‘Proceedings have been discontinued against Selfridges after the FSA received assurances from them that, pending the outcome of a detailed FSA review, raw cows' drinking milk would no longer be placed on sale in its premises,’ said a FSA spokesperson.

Selfridges said it was pleased that the FSA had decided not to proceed with the prosecution.

‘We note that the FSA is currently undertaking a review of the current controls governing the sale and marketing of raw drinking milk and we look forward to the publication of their report with interest,’ said a spokesperson.

However the FSA said that the prosecution against Stephen Hook, the Sussex farmer who supplied Selfridges with raw milk, would continue.

The FSA announced its intention to prosecute Selfridges and Mr Hook for allegedly breaching food hygiene regulations in January.

Selfridges installed vending machines dispensing Mr Hook’s unpasteurised milk in its flagship London store in 2011 but removed them in 2012.

Mr Hook, of Longleys Farm in Hailsham, Sussex, is due to appear at Westminster magistrates court on 24 April.

It is illegal to sell raw milk in England, Wales and Northern Ireland unless it is directly from a producer’s farm or a vehicle such as a milk float. In Scotland it is illegal to sell raw milk to the public.

Raw drinking milk may contain bacteria that can be harmful to health such as E.coli O157, listeria, salmonella and campylobacter. Pasteurisation destroys these harmful bacteria.