News
for the month of April, 2014

Council reveal more filthy businesses

7th of April 2014

Mice nesting amongst food boxes, a cockroach found in a takeaway meal, a gas leak and crockery ‘washed’ in filthy water were just a few of the horrors Ealing Council’s food hygiene inspectors dealt with last month.

Five unsafe food businesses were forced to close temporarily and clean up their premises in February after council officers found evidence of serious breaches of food hygiene regulations.

An inspection took place at 2 in 1 Pizza at 504 Lady Margaret Road, Southall, after a customer complained that they found a cockroach in their food. When officers visited the business, they found a serious mouse and German cockroach infestation, including a nest of mice running around inside a box used to store takeaway food containers and rodent faeces inside pizza boxes.

The business was ordered to close immediately and was not allowed to open again until 10 days later after extensive cleaning and pest control measures were put in place.

Vegetarian restaurant Delhi Wala of 11 King Street, Southall, was also forced to close temporarily after officers found evidence of rat, mouse and cockroach activity on the premises. Mouse droppings and dead cockroaches were found in the kitchen and serving areas and rat droppings were found in the storage area. The restaurant was allowed to open five days later once officers were satisfied that improvements were completed.

When council officers visited Al Rafidain, a butchers and grocers at 140 Churchfield Road, Acton, it had a serious mouse infestation and was dirty throughout. A live mouse was found amongst bags of rice on sale and packets of food sitting on the shops shelves had been chewed by rodents. Once again, the business was closed and reopened five days later when the public health risk had been removed.

Serious concerns were raised about Rays restaurant located at 78 The Green, Southall, after a routine hygiene inspection. Problems at the business included a lack of adequate hand washing facilities, filthy water used to wash dishes, ‘clean’ plates wiped with visibly dirty cloths, dead cockroaches and evidence of rodent activity.

Inspectors also noticed a smell of gas during the inspection and National Grid confirmed a gas leak and disconnected the supply. The business was allowed to reopen after two weeks.

More evidence of mouse and cockroach infestations was found when officers visited Palm Palace at 80 South Road, Southall. Mouse droppings were found on food preparation surfaces and the business was generally dirty. The restaurant was closed down for three days until improvements were made.

Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “The state of these businesses was truly disgusting, as well as unsafe. We will always take what legal action we can to force dirty businesses to stop taking unacceptable risks with the public’s health, but I would also urge local residents to check food hygiene ratings before they buy any fresh or packaged food from a business.”

Ealing Magistrates Court ratified the Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices served on the businesses by the council’s hygiene officers on and all five businesses were ordered to pay the council’s costs. 

Anyone who is concerned that a business is breaching food hygiene regulations should emailfoodsafety@ealing.gov.uk or call 020 8825 6666020 8825 6666. Visit www.food.gov.uk to check the food hygiene rating of local businesses. 

A video showing the nesting mice at 2 for 1 Pizza can be viewed atwww.youtube.com/ealingcouncil 

 

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Rare but deadly

7th of April 2014

 

Raw milk is increasingly fashionable

Rare burgers and raw milk are becoming increasingly fashionable. But Steve Nash, co-founded of the E. coli support group Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome Help (HUSH), argues that consumers do not understand the risks they are taking.

Some people think it ‘s fashionable, new, natural and daring to drink raw milk and or eat raw burgers.  Well it’s not.  Just ask those who have suffered from Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter as well as E. coli O157 from consumption of such products.    

If you have ever seen someone suffering from severe illness caused by foodborne illness, such as kidney failure and neurological problems, you would realise just how severe and life changing it can be. 

In recent years our HUSH has tried to prevent a fast food hamburger chain from reducing the cooking time of their burgers through the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The recent cases of illness caused by burgers saddens us but is of no surprise, as some of our members have suffered kidney damage and death due to this product not being thoroughly cooked. 

Some gourmet type restaurants have used a disclaimer for the customer to sign when selling raw and rare burgers, as they believe it mitigates their responsibility should the customer become ill. This indicates that for some businesses making a profit comes first.

We applaud any local authority or EHO who takes a stand against raw or undercooked burgers in order to protect public health.

Currently, the FSA is running a consultation on raw milk that closes in April. HUSH has continually raised its concerns to them over the sale of raw milk over many years and recently about vending machine and internet sales.  We believe that this represents a clear breach of Regulation 32 / Schedule 6 of the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations, as there is no provision in this legislation for either of these activities.   

Also, two raw milk producers have advertised deliveries in Scotland, where the sale has been banned since 1983. 

HUSH does not wish to prevent personal freedom of choice and have no objection to people drinking raw milk who are fully aware of its dangers, however, most people are not. 

Some of our member’s children were affected after being offered it to drink as a treat on a visit to a farm. Had they been able to make an informed choice they probably would not have suffered life long kidney and other health problems.

 

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Defective guard blamed for crushed hand

18th of April 2014

The Bedlington man, who was 18 at the time, was a third year apprentice with Miller UK Ltd when the incident occurred at its Cramlington premises on 12 March 2013. B

edlington Magistrates’ Court heard on the third 3 April that he was working on a large guillotine cutting a piece of metal, which was held in place between the blade and cutting table by mechanical clamps. He was in hospital for three days and remained off work for six months. He suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome and continues to suffer discomfort and fatigue in his hand.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the safety guard fitted on the machine was ineffective in its design and had been poorly maintained so was not working correctly. Miller UK Ltd had also failed to carry out a sufficient assessment of the risks associated with the work and the fault had not been reported.

Miller UK Ltd, of Bassington Industrial Estate, Bassington Lane, Cramlington, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £894.95 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE Inspector Laura Catterall said: "This young man is now living with a permanent impairment but his injuries could have easily been avoided had Miller UK Ltd adequately assessed the risks, which would have spotted that the guard was not effective. "This failing was compounded by poor maintenance and a breakdown in the fault reporting system – which together led to one of its workers suffering severe injuries. "Guards and safety systems are there for a reason and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times.”

For more information and guidance on work equipment and machinery log onto the website at: www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery

Somerfield fined after employee’s toes are amputated

18th of April 2014

The supermarket chain Somerfield has been fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs after a store supervisor had parts of two toes amputated after being crushed under a platform lift in one of its store’s loading bays. 

The accident, which happened in August 2012, follows an inspection of the platform lift a year previously, which had highlighted a number of defects that had not been fixed by the time of the accident.

Somerfield Stores Ltd, which is part of the Co-operative group, pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates last week to the offence of failing to ensure the safety of their staff at their store in Westbury-on-Trym.

The injured employees toes had become trapped against a protecting lip on the wall of the loading bay adjacent to the lift. The underside of the lift was not adequately fenced off while the hinged metal flaps used to help transfer gods from delivery lorries onto the platform were bent so they did not lie flat.

Other defects that had been highlighted a year previously included the lift platform not being properly guarded to prevent falls.

On the day of the accident the internal goods lift had been out of order so staff had improvised and used the platform lift to bring goods onto the shop floor. Signs stating that passengers should not use the platform lift were ignored.

An investigation by Bristol City Council EHPs revealed that staff had not been given clear instruction on the use of the lift or how to check its condition while delivery risk assessments failed to cover the main risks in the loading bay. Although there was a company policy concerning the use of the lift it had not been implemented in this store.  

Senior Environmental Health Officer Heather Clarke who led the investigation said: ‘This investigation shows the need for companies to assess the risks from machinery, to ensure that all their machines are maintained properly, and to train staff how to use them safely. They should also consider the knock-on effect of breakdown of equipment, and train staff on how to react.’’

In court Simon Morgan, barrister for Somerfield Stores Ltd, said: ‘The company has taken this matter very seriously and has learnt from it. They acted swiftly to deal with the hazards identified, and the lift is now safe to use, the loading bay and lift are fenced to prevent falls and unauthorised access, and all staff are properly trained.’

In January this year Tesco Maintenance Ltd was fined £80,000 after one of its employees lost five toes after his foot was trapped under a faulty internal lift. The lift maintenance company Otis Ltd was also fined £75,000 for failing to properly maintain the lift. 

 

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UK retail group fined £8700 over food hygiene offences

18th of April 2014

Food had to be removed from a village shop on four occasions and destroyed after safety inspectors found it posed a risk to public health. McColls store in Lytham Road, Warton, came under suspicion after customer complained milk bought there caused him to vomit repeatedly.

Altogether 465 items of food and drink, including many high risk items such as sandwiches, cheese and yoghurt had to be seized and thrown away, because they were being stored at the wrong temperature in chiller units.

McColls Retail Group Limited, based in Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to 12 food hygiene offences.

The company was fined £7,600 with £1,140 costs and £120 victims’ surcharge by District Judge James Hatton sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court who commented: “There was substantial risk to health had anyone consumed these items.”

Clare Holmes, prosecuting for Fylde Borough Council, said on June' last year environmental health officers visited the Warton shop following a customer’s complaint milk bought there had made him repeatedly vomit.

Food in the chillers such as cream cakes and pies was being kept at too high a temperature. A packet of ham was found to be “blown” with the packaging extending. The food was immediately removed from sale and staff agreed to stop deliveries of high risk food. But the next day when inspectors returned, they found there had been another delivery and that food had to be removed.

On June 21 inspectors again went to the shop following another complaint from a member of the public the chillers were not working properly. Again food being stored had to be removed, as it did also on August 1 because it was at too high a temperature.

Richard Orridge, for the company, said it owned 1,300 shops and had a good food safety record. 

 

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Somerset worker fined for endangering workers’ lives

18th of April 2014

A roofing contractor put the lives of workers at risk by failing to protect them from falls as they worked up to nine metres above ground on a barn roof, a court has been told.

Neil Popham, 50, was hired to build agricultural buildings at a farm in Over Stowey, in Somerset. During the construction in May 2013, a complaint was made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the safety of workers during the roof installation.

As a result, an HSE inspector visited the site and her investigation led to the prosecution of Mr Popham at Taunton Magistrates today (Monday 3 March 2014).

The court was told that on the day of the inspector’s visit, three workers were on top of a steel agricultural building installing roof sheets. The roof height varied from seven metres to nine metres.

There was no edge protection to prevent anyone falling off the building and inadequate netting to mitigate the effects of any fall. In addition, the workers had accessed the roof using a ladder that was not tied to prevent it falling.

Mr Popham had received enforcement notices relating to safe working at height on previous jobs.

Neil Popham, of Higher Heathcombe Farm, Enmore, near Bridgwater, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £950 in costs.

HSE Inspector Kate Leftly, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Falls from height remain one of the most common reasons for injuries and fatalities at work, and it is fortunate that no-one was seriously injured or killed in this case.

“The industry standards expected for work at height on roofs are well known. Having had previous enforcement action Mr Popham was more than aware of the risks but was still prepared to endanger the lives of those working for him.

“It’s crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient safety measures are put in place to protect staff.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls

Nigerian shop owner found guilty of selling unfit food

18th of April 2014

A Nigerian businessman who opted for a Crown Court trial for food hygiene offences has been fined £1,750 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs for displaying food unfit for human consumption.

During a visit to a shop owned by Anthony Ojielo at 5 Deptford Church St, Deptford, south London an EHO from Lewisham Council noticed that jars of unlabelled ghee from Uganda with screw tops that he knew were not legally available for sale in the UK were on the shop shelves.

On further investigation the EHO then noticed a number of peanut products from Uganda also on sale including roasted peanut butter, roast ground nut paste and ground peanuts.

Mr Ojielo chose to plead not guilty and then defending himself in the Magistrates Court he requested a trial by jury in a Crown Court. On reaching Crown Court Mr Ojielo’s defence was that although the goods were in his shop they were not intended for sale but were samples of products he was thinking of selling at a future date.   

The jury took over a day to reach a majority decision and found Mr Ojielo guilty of four charges under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 for displaying food unfit for human consumption. He was found not guilty on a further two counts.

Suspecting that the products on sale had been imported without proper controls to protect public health the investigating EHO detained the items and took samples of the peanut products for formal testing, which were found to contain high levels of aflatoxin.  

Lewisham Council has recently been sampling a number of suspect products in other premises including calibash chalk, which was found to contain high levels of heavy metals.

Calibash chalk is a type of chalk sometimes eaten by pregnant African women to alleviate morning sickness. Concerns about the safety of Calibash chalk were prompted by neighbouring councils finding high levels of lead in tested samples. 

David Edwards, food safety manager for Lewisham Council, said: ‘We have been finding suspect products in other premises and we are trying to get to the bottom of whether they are being imported legally and if they are then they are clearly not being tested. We get the feeling they are coming in with personal luggage.’

 

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