for the month of December, 2013
Sainsbury's recalls its Kids 20 Pork Cocktail Sausages
Sainsbury's has recalled packs of its own-brand Kids 20 Pork Cocktail Sausages because some packs might be labelled with an incorrect 'use by' date of 25 December 2013. This product should have been labelled with a 'use by' date of 25 November 2013. Eating a product after its 'use by' date could pose a possible risk to health. The FSA has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
Butcher given suspended sentence
A rural butcher who was planning to sell a putrid pork loin coved in mould has been given a suspended prison sentence and fined £4500.
Peter Harrison of Kilham, East Yorkshire pleaded guilty to intending to sell meat unfit for human consumption and three other food safety offences at Bridlington Magistrates Court.
Mr Harrison was given a suspended six-month custodial sentence fined £4500 fined. He was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,602 and a victim surcharge of £80.
The magistrates said they had considered referring the case to Crown Court.
EHOs from East Riding of Yorkshire Council found Mr Harrison had failed to implement his cleaning schedules and procedures to ensure the premises and equipment were maintained in a clean condition.
The standard of cleanliness of parts of the food premises and of some food equipment were extremely poor. Officers found accumulations of dirt and extensive areas of black mould growth on the walls, window sill, doors, floor including drainage channels in the meat processing room, and old meat debris, black mould and dirt on a vacuum packer, disinfectant probe wipe containers and on two cooked meat storage trolleys.
Paul Bellotti, the council’s head of housing, transportation and public protection, said: ‘We decided it was time to take enforcement action against Mr Harrison after he had failed to heed previous informal and formal warnings.’
Early success for Welsh food rating scheme
Early signs are that food outlets across Wales are complying with the new mandatory food hygiene rating laws that came into force last Thursday.
Since November 28 all Welsh food outlets including supermarkets, schools, hospitals and residential care homes face prosecution if they fail to prominently display their food hygiene rating score. Until now the display of hygiene scores has been voluntary in Wales.
Northern Ireland is expected to follow suit and introduce a mandatory hygiene rating system while England has chosen to keep its scheme voluntary.
According to CIEH director of Wales Julie Barratt the early signs are that there has been a high level of compliance and that the mandatory scheme is generating active social media commentary about food outlets with low scores.
‘There has been a rash of food outlets showing their hygiene scores. It really is obvious that everyone is showing them, and they are prominently placed as well,’ said Ms Barratt. ‘We are also seeing on social media like Facebook a storm of commentary about restaurants with low scores with people saying “only a score of 2 that is a disgrace I am not going there”, so it seems to be having the desired effect.’
Under the Welsh rating scheme any scored food outlet will have the opportunity to be re-inspected within three months for a standard fee of £150. In England re-inspection is within six months. Welsh businesses unwilling to pay the fee will have to wait until inspected again under the local authority inspection schedule.
‘We want to push up standards and encourage people to know that for £150 you can have an inspection and push it up, so having a three month re-inspection period is also about improving standards,’ points out Ms Barratt. ‘You tend to find if people think they have six months they will not do anything until month five. That is not what we want, we want people immediately engaged in getting on and improving things.’
Re-inspection will also be a full inspections rather than just checking previous failings. Wales has also opted to prosecute any businesses that fail to display a rating.
‘Unlike Northern Ireland we have not gone for fixed penalty because we don’t want people doing a bit of cost benefit analysis and deciding that it is better to take your sticker down and wait to pay the fine rather than having the sticker up, which may be to their detriment,’ said Ms Barratt.
It is planned that the scheme will be extended in 2014 to the business-to-business trade including food manufacturers, wholesalers and transporters who supply food outlets.
Lorry nearly killed man
A poorly lit truck stop has been fined £19,000 after a lorry driver was hit by a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and left with life threatening injuries.
Dutch driver Dowie Kluin was hit by the vehicle after using the shower block in Whitwood Truck Stop, Castleford, Wakefield. He received serious life threatening injuries and is facing numerous operations to recover.
EHO Helen Buttler from Wakefield Council found poor levels of lighting after dark, an extremely faded and inaccessible pedestrian walkway, little signage and no markings to indicate the direction of travel at the site.
There was also an insufficient risk assessment in relation to pedestrian safety and traffic management at the site, which has facilities for re-fuelling HGVs, a shop, café and vehicle wash on site as well as provides overnight parking for HGVs.
Three improvement notices were served requiring these matters to be addressed.
Exelby Services Ltd, which operated the truck stop, admitted exposing the members of the public to risks to their health and safety last month. The company were fined £19,000 at Wakefield Magistrates Court and ordered to £6,923 the Wakefield Council’s costs.
Diane Widdowson, Wakefield environmental health service manager, said: 'The truck stop is located at the side of the very busy stretch of the M62 and provides fuel and welfare facilities for drivers from the UK and the continent. The company failed to provide the most basic safety measures to protect visiting drivers. The court has clearly recognised this by awarding almost the maximum level of fine in the magistrates court.'
Exelby Services Ltd is based in Londonderry, Northallerton.
EHOs 'needí guidance on rare burgers
EHOs do not know what action to take against restaurants serving beef burgers rare, the CIEH has warned.
Jenny Morris, CIEH principal policy officer, said EHPs have been left in a ‘extremely difficult position’ since the Davy’s restaurant chain, which was selling undercooked burgers, won its appeal against Westminster council.
‘EHPs can all make judgements based on the specific case they are dealing with and this will always be necessary. But without some central guidance there will inevitably be complaints of inconsistency,’ she said.
She added that ‘the only way to resolve this urgent and important issue’ was for the ‘FSA to provide specific guidance’.
District judge Elizabeth Roscoe upheld part of an appeal by Davy’s – which runs 26 restaurants across London - against a notice requiring it to change the way it cooked burgers in August. She ruled that it was acceptable for Davy’s to serve burgers rare because it sourced its beef from a reputable supplier, Donald Russell’s (DR) in Scotland.
The FSA Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food last month repeated its advice that in order to eliminate E. coli O157 burgers need to be cooked to 70 centigrade for 2 minutes.
This week’s online EHN poll shows 75 per cent of web users want the FSA to take action on rare burgers. Twenty five per cent didn’t agree that action was needed and 2 per cent were undecided. There were over 100 votes in total.
The FSA said it was working on new guidance.
‘Guidance is needed for both the industry and local authorities on this issue and now that the court case has concluded the FSA will work with relevant industry organisations and local authorities, including Westminster, to develop this guidance,’ said a spokesperson.
The FSA added that although mince should be cooked thoroughly, it is not a legal requirement.
‘Based on the best available evidence Food Standards Agency advice is clear that mince should be cooked thoroughly, however, this is not a legal requirement. If a food business operator chooses to serve rare burgers it must be done safely and adequate HACCP controls must be in place,’ said the spokesperson.
Recycling company fined £200,000 after worker hit by vehicle
A wood recycling company has been sentenced for serious safety failings after a worker was killed after being struck by a loading vehicle and run over.
Raymond Thomas Burns, 43, of Eston, who worked as a load inspector for UK Wood Recycling Ltd at its site in Wilton, Redcar, was walking between a wood pile and a skip in the yard when he was hit by a load shovel.
The incident, on 19 December 2008, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company today (12 November) at Teesside Crown Court.
The court heard that Mr Burns had been working around a large wood pile being used to feed a hammer mill where the wood was smashed to chips. The shovel vehicle was moving material from one part of the site to another. As he crossed to a skip, Mr Burns was struck and run over by the load shovel and died of his injuries at the scene.
HSE found that no segregation measures had been put in place by UK Wood Recycling Ltd to separate vehicles and pedestrians working on the site. Workers were unprotected from the dangers of constantly moving vehicles – despite previous incidents where vehicles had collided, and workers reporting other near misses.
UK Wood Recycling Ltd of, Lumb Farm, Little Moss, Droylsden, Manchester, was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay a further £34,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 17(1) by virtue of Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
After the case, HSE Inspector Bruno Porter, said: “A conscientious and hard-working man has lost his life in this senseless way. There was simply an acceptance by UK Wood Recycling Ltd of the established working pattern. Solely relying on drivers or workers noticing each other is not adequate control.
“This was an entirely preventable death caused by the company failing to have a system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other. Ideally, this segregation is achieved by the vehicles and pedestrians having separate traffic routes. If they share a route or area then physical barriers should be used to keep them apart, or other means of preventing moving vehicles and people being in the same place at the same time.
“The waste industry has a very high injury rate, and most of the fatal and major injuries relate to transport issues. The risks of serious injury and, all too frequently, death, resulting from the failure to control the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians are widely recognised.”
Cooking turkey at christmas
Defrosting your turkey
If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that the turkey is properly defrosted before cooking it. If it's still partially frozen, it may not cook evenly, which means that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.
Defrosting should be done in the fridge if possible (or somewhere cool) and separated from touching other foods, with a container large enough to catch the defrosted juices. This is important to stop cross-contamination.
- Work out defrosting time in advance, so you know how much time to allow – it can take at least a couple of days for a large turkey to thaw.
- When you start defrosting, take the turkey out of its packaging, put it on a large dish and cover. The dish will hold the liquid that comes out of the thawing turkey.
- Remove the giblets and the neck as soon as possible to speed up the thawing process. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw turkey, giblets or any other raw meat.
- Before cooking, make sure there aren't any ice crystals in the cavity. Test the thicker parts of the turkey with a fork to tell whether the meat feels frozen.
- Turkey (and any other poultry) is best defrosted in a covered dish at the bottom of the fridge so that it can't drip onto other foods.
- Pour away the liquid that comes out of the defrosting turkey regularly to stop it overflowing and spreading bacteria. Be careful not to splash the liquid onto worktops, dishes, cloths or other food.
- Bear in mind what else is you have stored in the fridge. Cooked meats need to be covered and stored higher up.
- If the bird is too big for the fridge, put it somewhere out of reach from animals and children where it won't touch other foods. A cool room, shed or garage are all good places.
- If you're not using the fridge, watch out for sudden changes in room temperature, as they could prevent the turkey from thawing evenly.
To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging for any guidance first. If there aren't any defrosting instructions, use the following times to work out roughly how long it will take to thaw your turkey.
- in a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg, but remember that not all fridges will be this temperature
- in a cool room (below 17.5ºC, 64ºF), allow approximately three to four hours per kg, or longer if the room is particularly cold
- at room temperature (about 20ºC, 68ºF) allow approximately two hours per kg
When your turkey is fully defrosted, put it in the fridge until you're ready to cook it. If this isn't possible, make sure you cook it immediately.
Preparing the turkey
Keep the uncooked turkey away from food that's ready to eat. If raw poultry, or other raw meat, touches or drips onto these foods, bacteria will spread and may cause food poisoning.
Bacteria can spread from raw meat and poultry to worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. To keep your Christmas food safe, remember the following things:
- After touching raw poultry or other raw meat, always wash your hands with warm water and soap, and dry them thoroughly.
- There's no need to wash your turkey before your cook it. If you do, bacteria from raw poultry can splash onto worktops, dishes and other foods. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria.
- Always clean worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils thoroughly after they have touched raw poultry or meat.
- Never use the same chopping board for raw poultry or meat and ready-to-eat food without washing it thoroughly in warm soapy water first. If possible, use a separate chopping board just for raw meat and poultry.
Cooking your tukey
Plan your cooking time in advance to make sure you get the bird in the oven early enough to cook it thoroughly. A large turkey can take several hours to cook properly. Eating undercooked turkey (or other poultry) could cause food poisoning.
Three ways you can tell a turkey is cooked:
- the meat should be steaming hot all the way through
- none of the meat should be pink when you cut into the thickest part of the bird
- the juices should run clear when you pierce the turkey or press the thigh
If you're using a temperature probe or food thermometer, ensure that the thickest part of the bird (between the breast and the thigh) reaches at least 70°C for two minutes.
Turkey cooking times
The cooking times below are based on an unstuffed bird. It's better to cook your stuffing in a separate roasting tin, rather than inside the bird, so that it will cook more easily and the cooking guidelines will be more accurate.
If you cook your bird with the stuffing inside, you need to allow extra time for the stuffing and for the fact that it cooks more slowly.
Some ovens, such as fan-assisted ovens, might cook the bird more quickly – check the guidance on the packaging and the manufacturer's handbook for your oven if you can.
As a general guide, in an oven preheated to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4):
- allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes for a turkey under 4.5kg
- allow 40 minutes per kg for a turkey that's between 4.5kg and 6.5kg
- allow 35 minutes per kg for a turkey of more than 6.5kg
Cover your turkey with foil during cooking and uncover for the last 30 minutes to brown the skin. To stop the meat drying out, baste it every hour during cooking.
Cooking times for other birds
Other birds, such as goose and duck, need different cooking times and temperatures. The oven should always be hotter for duck and goose in order to melt the fat under the skin.
- goose should be cooked in a preheated oven at 200ºC/425ºF/gas mark 7 for 35 minutes per kg
- duck should be cooked in a preheated oven for 45 minutes per kg at 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6
- chicken should be cooked in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes
Keep cooked meat and poultry in the fridge. If they are left out at room temperature, bacteria that causes food poisoning can grow and multiply.
After you've feasted on the turkey, cool any leftovers as quickly as possible (within one or two hours), cover them and put them in the fridge. Ideally, try to use up leftovers within 48 hours.
When you're serving cold turkey, take out only as much as you're going to use and put the rest back in the fridge. Don't leave a plate of turkey or cold meats out all day, for example, on a buffet.
If you're reheating leftover turkey or other food, always make sure it's steaming hot all the way through before you eat it. Don't reheat more than once. Ideally, use leftovers within 48 hours.
Prevent Christmas Injuries
A cocktail of excitement, stress, tiredness and alcohol can create unexpected hazards in the home at Christmas.
More than 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts and burns during the festive period.
During Christmas, your home is likely to be full of people and, in the excitement, accidents can easily happen.
“We want to help people prevent their festivities being cut short by a trip to A&E," says Sheila Merrill, home safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
“Our message is that the home should be as safe as necessary, rather than as safe as possible. With a little more care and forward planning, most accidents could be avoided.”
Hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives make the kitchen one of the most dangerous places during the holiday.
“The Christmas meal is probably the biggest meal most families cook all year. It needs careful planning to avoid injuries,” says Merrill.
Try to keep other people (especially children) out of the kitchen. Avoid alcohol until you've finished cooking, and wipe up spills as soon as they happen, so that people don't slip.
Clutter, alcohol and tiredness make the stairs an accident hotspot during Christmas, says Merrill. It's common to fall down steps or stairs after drinking.
“Keep the stairs well lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests who could be going up to the bathroom during the night,” she says.
Typical Christmas Day accidents include parents accidentally stabbing themselves with scissors, which they've used to assemble toys, instead of using a screwdriver. People often cut themselves with knives when they're opening presents too quickly. People also trip over toys and electric cables while rushing to try their new computers and other appliances.
“Don’t rush,” says Merrill. “Take time to enjoy the moment. Have a screwdriver ready for toys that are screwed into packaging. Clear up the packaging and wrapping paper as you go along, and remember to recycle.”
Beware of your Christmas tree. That Norwegian spruce is not as innocent as it looks. Every year, about 1,000 people are injured by their tree, usually while fixing stars, lights or other decorations to the higher branches, reports the RoSPA.
“Always use a step ladder to put up the decorations and don't over-reach yourself,” says Merrill. Buy the correct size tree so you don't have to saw the top off and risk cutting yourself.
Around 350 people a year are hurt by Christmas tree lights, according to RoSPA. Injuries include people falling while they're putting them up, children swallowing the bulbs, and people getting electric shocks and burns from faulty lights.
“Test your lights and the wiring before you put them up, as they can deteriorate over the years. If you have old lights, buy new ones that meet higher safety standards,” says Merrill. “Don’t overload sockets, as that’s a fire risk.”
About 1,000 people a year are hurt when decorating their homes, says RoSPA. Children bite into glass baubles and adults fall while using unstable chairs instead of ladders to put up streamers, or fall out of lofts while looking for the decorations.
“Glass decorations should be placed out of the reach of toddlers and pets,” says Merrill. Novelty decorations, such as stuffed Santas, reindeer and snowmen, which look like toys, may not comply with strict toy safety regulations. Therefore, they should not be within the reach of children.
People are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of year. Taking care with candles and oil burners is one way to help you and your family and friends avoid a Christmas house fire.
“Never put candles on or near a Christmas tree,” says Merrill. “Never leave an open flame unattended.” Always place tea lights inside an appropriate container. “They have been known to burn through baths and television sets,” she says.
Mistletoe is poisonous. Its berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and can cause hallucinations. The orange berries of the Christmas cherry can cause stomach pains. The Christmas rose is so effective at causing diarrhoea that it was used as a chemical weapon by the ancient Greeks. “Check with the garden centre whether the plants you’re buying are toxic,” says Merrill. “If they are, keep them out of the reach of children.”
Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. The combination of drink, relatives, lack of sleep and the stress of Christmas shopping can be too much for some people.
Try to find some time alone, even if it’s only to have a relaxing bath. Learn to say no to the demands of relatives. It’s important not to suppress your emotions. Try to talk to someone you trust or a third party, such as the Samaritans. Find out more on keeping Christmas stress-free.
Indigestion and food poisoning
Food poisoning is always a worry at Christmas. Read the instructions on the turkey well. It takes hours to cook a turkey properly. If you don't, you could contract salmonella poisoning, which can be life-threatening for vulnerable people. Find out more on cooking turkey.
Studies by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) reveal that, on average, we gain 2kg (5lbs) in weight during the Christmas period, so restrict the amount of chocolate, cakes and nuts you eat. Get ideas on healthy Christmas food swaps.
Apart from the risks to your own health, alcohol can be the chief mischief maker when it comes to accidents. “It reduces your risk awareness,” says Merrill. “Alcohol can make people relax so much that they don't think about everyday risks.” Get tips on cutting down.
After a party, empty any alcohol out of glasses. Children are likely to drink the remains if they get up early to play with their toys. Never drink and drive.
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