News
for the month of August, 2014

UK court fines butcher for food safety breach

4th of August 2014

A mobile butcher who operates in Littlehampton has been fined £2,100 for breaching food safety standards.

On Wednesday, July 23, Jeremy Ireland, of I & J Meats, pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 at Worthing Magistrates’ Court.

Ireland, who runs the mobile butchers in Littlehampton High Street and Bognor, was also ordered to pay costs of £1,525.81 and a victim surcharge of £30, giving a total of £3,665.81.

The case followed an inspection by an Arun District Council food safety officer in September, 2013.

During that inspection, the officer found unrefrigerated fresh meat in direct sunlight, further raw meat which was not under temperature control and which was in direct contact with ready-to-eat foods, Arun said.

 

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E. coli O157 strikes UK boy in 2012; specialist recalls little Bo’s ‘darkest days’

4th of August 2014

He said the “darkest days” in the youngster’s treatment were when it became clear how seriously the infection had damaged him.

Mr Ramage said: “I think the darkest days were not the times when he was most unwell, but when we realised that he would pull through and that he would be blind and require a stoma.

“All our energies had gone into keeping him alive, then we realised the burden his health would have on him and on Lucy.”

He said most children make a full recovery from E. coli, but added that those who do not generally suffer renal failure – as Bo did – and require a kidney transplant

However, the state of Bo’s bowel, which was left with five holes in it after being attacked by the bacteria, further complicated his case.

Meanwhile, new guidelines on managing the risks of E.coli have been hailed as a victory for common sense.

Tell it to Bo.

 

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Cleaning company fined for risky rooftop work

18th of August 2014

A Stoke-on-Trent company, which uses jet washers to clean roof tiles, has been fined after a worker was spotted on a roof without any falls protection in place.

A member of the public spotted a man standing on the pitched roof of a domestic property in Cheddleton, Staffordshire, while carrying out the cleaning work on 25 October 2013.

The member of the public took photos of the work taking place and contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who carried out an investigation.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard today (6 August) that an inspector from HSE’s Stoke office followed up the member of the public’s report and found that Roof Right UK Ltd routinely arranged for such work to take place without any suitable falls protection being in place.

A Prohibition Notice was issued to Roof Right UK Ltd preventing them from carrying out further work unless suitable controls such as scaffolding were provided.

Roof Right UK Ltd of Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent, were found guilty in their absence to breaching Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £10,000 and were ordered to pay costs of £1,277.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said:

“I would like to thank the member of the public for bringing this matter to our attention as they have undoubtedly prevented a serious injury. 

“It is staggering to me that a company operating in 2013 thought that it was acceptable to allow workers onto pitched property roofs to carry out jet washing work without providing scaffolding or other suitable falls protection measures.

“Roof Right UK Ltd put workers’ lives in danger by allowing them onto a slippery roof without suitable safety measures being in place. They failed to recognise their responsibility to ensure that work at height carried out under their control was done safely.”

 

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KFC rapped over flooded kitchen

18th of August 2014

A Cornwall branch of KFC has been told to review its hygiene procedures and retrain staff after EHOs discovered three employees preparing food while standing in dirty blood-contaminated water.

An officer from Cornwall Port Health Authority visited the KFC in Falmouth on 30 June in response to a complaint from a member of the public.

It was found the floor in the meat fridge, cooking area and bin room had been flooded.

Blood was running from the raw meat room, and grease and blood was being carried on employee’s shoes.

The inspection report said the operation of KFC’s procedures had not been effective in identifying and resolving hygiene problems.

It included an action point to ‘provide retraining to all staff and better supervision’.

The premises’ management voluntarily closed the premises to carry out urgent repairs and cleaning, and was quickly reopened.

Port health officer Carol Thorogood told EHN: ‘We are looking at the offences and how the circumstances sit with our enforcement policy.

‘The local press coverage so soon after the offence has impacted on the company and has informed the public.

‘We will consider if there is anything more to be gained by a prosecution when we find out whether improvements are sustained.’

The KFC branch had received a five-star rating under the Food Hygiene Rating System following an inspection on 23 May 2013.

A KFC spokesperson told the local press: ‘Health and hygiene are of the utmost importance to us, and our Falmouth restaurant had previously achieved the best possible 'Scores on the Doors' rating of five stars out of five.

‘We did not meet our usual high standards on the date of the last visit, which was partly due to flooding in the kitchen area.

‘We are confident that this was an isolated incident as inspectors were very happy with the store when they revisited the following day, and we will continue to work closely with the EHO to ensure we maintain our high standards.’

Grimsby hit by legionella outbreak

18th of August 2014

 

A number of cooling towers have been disinfected in an area of Grimsby after four people contracted legionnaires’ disease.

A pub has also voluntarily closed while staff from Public Health England and North East Lincolnshire Council track down the source of the infection.

Four cases have been confirmed since 27 July, and are all receiving treatment.

Simon Padfield, consultant in communicable disease control with Public Health England in Humberside, said the source of the infection had not yet been established.

He added: ‘However, our investigations have shown that all four cases had been in the area around Freeman Street in Grimsby in the period before they became ill.

‘Therefore we are working closely with colleagues at North East Lincolnshire Council, the Health and Safety Executive and the NHS in North East Lincolnshire to focus our investigations on this area at the moment.’

PHE said the potential source of infection had not yet been pinpointed but that operators of major cooling towers in the area had introduced ‘additional disinfection measures’.

A PHE spokesperson said the White Bear pub in Freeman Street had closed voluntarily, but that alternative sources of the bacteria had not been ruled out.

Around a third of legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are associated with cooling systems and evaporative condensers, which can spread bacteria by dispersing small water droplets.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities conducted a blitz of inspections of cooling towers last year after two high profile outbreaks in Edinburgh and Stoke-on-Trent.

Between April and September 2013 EHOs and HSE inspectors looked at 654 evaporative cooling plants.

Of these, 16 per cent were issued with notices, mostly for lack of effective implementation of control measures. Five prohibition notices were served. 

 

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Grimsby hit by legionella outbreak

18th of August 2014

 

A number of cooling towers have been disinfected in an area of Grimsby after four people contracted legionnaires’ disease.

A pub has also voluntarily closed while staff from Public Health England and North East Lincolnshire Council track down the source of the infection.

Four cases have been confirmed since 27 July, and are all receiving treatment.

Simon Padfield, consultant in communicable disease control with Public Health England in Humberside, said the source of the infection had not yet been established.

He added: ‘However, our investigations have shown that all four cases had been in the area around Freeman Street in Grimsby in the period before they became ill.

‘Therefore we are working closely with colleagues at North East Lincolnshire Council, the Health and Safety Executive and the NHS in North East Lincolnshire to focus our investigations on this area at the moment.’

PHE said the potential source of infection had not yet been pinpointed but that operators of major cooling towers in the area had introduced ‘additional disinfection measures’.

A PHE spokesperson said the White Bear pub in Freeman Street had closed voluntarily, but that alternative sources of the bacteria had not been ruled out.

Around a third of legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are associated with cooling systems and evaporative condensers, which can spread bacteria by dispersing small water droplets.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities conducted a blitz of inspections of cooling towers last year after two high profile outbreaks in Edinburgh and Stoke-on-Trent.

Between April and September 2013 EHOs and HSE inspectors looked at 654 evaporative cooling plants.

Of these, 16 per cent were issued with notices, mostly for lack of effective implementation of control measures. Five prohibition notices were served. 

 

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Audits and inspections can suck: UK food watchdog admits chicken factory breached hygiene laws

18th of August 2014

Roy Stevenson was a senior quality controller for more than a decade at one of the UK's largest poultry abattoirs, in Scunthorpe, until the end of 2012 when he was made redundant. Owned by the 2 Sisters group, the factory still supplies many leading supermarkets and fast-food chains. After the Guardian investigated this factory and others this year to understand why so much chicken across the industry was contaminated with Campylobacter, Stevenson decided to come forward. He wanted to explain what is was like when he worked there, and why there can be such a gap between what auditors see and what workers feel is the reality on the factory floor

The government's food watchdog has been forced to admit that an initial inquiry which cleared one of the UK's largest poultry processing plants of hygiene failings was misleading.

Instances of chickens being dropped on the floor then returned to the production line, documented by a Guardian investigation into failings in the poultry industry, constituted a "breach of the legislation", the Food Standards Agency has now acknowledged.

Following the Guardian revelations at the site in Scunthorpe in July, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asked the FSA to investigate. It rated the factory as good and wrote to the shadow food and farming minister saying there was no evidence of any breaches of food hygiene legislation.

But in an embarrassing climbdown less than a month on, the FSA has written to Labour's Huw Irranca-Davies admitting it was wrong. It has reviewed the Guardian's undercover footage showing dirty birds from the floor being thrown back into food production and concluded there has been a serious breach. But it has not issued a penalty, saying the company has assured it the problem has been addressed.

The admission comes as fresh allegations of hygiene failings at the factory emerged, with three former employees making claims about dirty chickens contaminating the production line and attempts to manipulate inspections up to 2012.

Labour said the FSA admission and the new questions over safety raised serious questions about the poultry inspection system in the UK.

But now three workers who have been in charge of quality control at the factory in recent years have come forward claiming it was "an almost daily occurrence" for birds to fall on the floor and be put back into the food chain instead of being correctly disposed of as waste. The company initially denied any instances of this happening.

The sources also claimed that auditors were often hoodwinked, even when their visits were supposedly unannounced, as managers slowed production lines and cleaned up poor practice when they were present. One described his responsibility for ensuring production managers followed the company's own rules on food hygiene and safety as "a war of attrition".

The three new sources were all employed as quality controllers until 2012 at the Scunthorpe site. Roy Stevenson was in charge of a team of quality assurance technicians and worked at the factory for more than a decade until being made redundant at the end of 2012.

"On the day of the audit, all the lines would be slowed to a minimum where it was pristine," he claimed. "There would be no birds dropping on to the floor, an auditor would walk round and everything would look lovely, unlike any other day."

Richard Lingard worked at the factory as a quality controller for a few weeks in 2012 before moving on because he said it was impossible to do the job correctly. A third former quality controller with several years' experience at Scunthorpe in the recent past, who asked for anonymity, described being regularly undermined and bypassed when trying to enforce hygiene rules.

All three claimed birds fell on the floor regularly because the line speeds were too fast for workers to keep up, and they would then be recycled back into the food chain in breach of company policy. They allege that their efforts to stop this happening were undermined by production staff.

In response, 2 Sisters said audits could not be cheated and it had no way of knowing when unannounced ones would take place.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

 

Source

Stonehaven firm fined £240,000 after driver crushed to death

29th of August 2014

A Stonehaven animal feed company has been fined £240,000 after a lorry driver was crushed to death when a two-tonnes, fully-loaded grain bin fell onto him from a forklift truck.

David Leslie, 49, of Balmedie, worked for a feed services firm and was picking up a load from East Coast Viners Grain LLP’s site in Drumlithie, Stonehaven, when the incident happened on 18 March 2013.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard today (15 August) that Mr Leslie was helping with the loading operation. He was standing near the base of the grain elevator, which carries the animal feed up and drops it into a bulk transporter, and was ready to pull the lever in the grain bin to release the feed once it was in position.

The forklift driver picked up the grain bin, which weighed around 600kg and held 1.5 tonnes of feed, and raised the forks to about five and a half feet to allow better visibility as he moved forwards. However, the bin started to move on the forks and he shouted a warning, but Mr Leslie was in front of the forklift when the bin fell off the forks and struck him.

Mr Leslie died after suffering crush injuries to his head, neck and chest.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed East Coast Viners Grain LLP did not have in place a safe system of work for the task and operators were left to carry it out in any way they saw fit. The company had assumed the forklift training they had received from an external provider would cover safe working.

Although the company’s site rules required visiting drivers to keep away from the loading operation until advised by the forklift driver, this was not communicated to employees or drivers. As a result employees regularly allowed visiting drivers to help loading by pulling the grain bin lever to release the feed. Supervisors were on site and aware that this was happening.

HSE also found that despite previous incidents of grain bins slipping from the forks of the trucks, no mechanism or device to secure them had been installed. There was also poor visibility in the loading area where the forklifts were operating; failures in work systems and in training for employees.

Since the incident the company has stopped using metal grain bins and now only uses cloth bags. It has updated its risk assessments and work procedures and now prevents visiting drivers from assisting in lifting operations. Visiting drivers are also asked to sign that they have read the site rules.

The court heard the company had been fined £4,000 in April 2011 for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following an incident in which a mill operative suffered head injuries when he fell from an excavator bucket in December 2009.

East Coast Viners Grain LLP, of Broadwood, Drumlithie, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, was fined £240,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller, said:

“East Coast Viners Grain LLP’s failure to act to make sure its employees and visiting drivers were adequately protected during loading operations, has led to the tragic death of Mr Leslie, which could have been so easily prevented.

“The issues with unsecured loads on forklift trucks and the dangers of inadequate segregation of vehicles and people are well-known in all relevant industries. Around a quarter of all workplace transport incidents involve forklift  trucks, with 50 per cent of these happening because someone is hit either by the vehicle or a falling load.

“It was entirely foreseeable that there was a risk of death or serious injury if the grain bin fell from the forklift truck, particularly as the company was aware of previous incidents of loads falling.”

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UK supermarkets fail inspections

29th of August 2014

Tesco supermarkets prove to be the worst for hygiene after it was revealed that 29 of its stores failed inspections aimed to protect customers from food poisoning.

It was one of five big supermarket chains that saw stores fall foul of basic checks from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), according to figures from between 2012 and 2013 that were published in the Sun.

Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Aldi also had stores that failed to meet expected standards, according to the data.

Lidl and Waitrose were the only two 'big seven' chains which saw all stores pass.

The FSA reviewed hygiene practices at a total of 11,106 supermarkets in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of that number, 510 did not maintain standard levels of hygiene.

 

Steve Naldrett, director of Ardan Training Consultancy LTD says "this highlights the need for proper food hygiene training in the retail setting. There are many products provided by awarding bodies such as CIEH and HABC that target food hygiene training for retail outlets.

Feel free to contact Steve on 07967104042 if you require any more information on this topic"

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247 sick in UK and it is an egg problem: Salmonella outbreak across Europe may be caused by single batch of eggs

29th of August 2014

The national salmonella outbreak which has struck down nearly 250 people across Britain could be traced back to a single source of eggs, health investigators have said.

Earlier this month, three hospital patients affected by the salmonella outbreak in Birmingham died. But the infection was not cited as a contributing factor on the death certificates of two patients and the coroner's report on the third patient has not yet been delivered.

Health officials said there have been 158 cases reported in the past week alone – since August 15 – but said these are not new infections but historical cases and that the reporting of new infections had in fact slowed down.

The UK Food Standards Agency decided to remind caterers to:

• keep eggs away from other foods, when they are still in the shell and when you have cracked them open;

• don’t use damaged or dirty eggs;

• be careful not to splash raw egg onto other foods, surfaces or dishes;

• if you are breaking eggs to use later (sometimes called ‘pooling’) keep the liquid egg in the fridge and take out small amounts as needed;

• use all ‘pooled’ liquid egg on the same day and don’t add new eggs to top it up;

• cook eggs and foods containing eggs thoroughly (piping hot?);

• use pasteurised egg for raw or lightly cooked foods;

• always wash and dry your hands thoroughly after touching eggs or working with them;

• clean food areas, dishes and utensils thoroughly and regularly, using warm soapy water, after working with eggs (doesn’t have to be warm, just soapy); and,

• serve egg dishes straight away, or cool them quickly and keep chilled

Steve Naldrett, director of Ardan Training Consultancy LTD says "this article gives some good safety points whilst using eggs, but it also highlights the importance of using 'approved' suppliers.

Feel free to contact Steve on 07967104042 if you require any more information on this topic"

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