Blood-covered cardboard and rat droppings found at UK supermarket sentenced for food hygiene offences

Rat droppings on pallets of bottled water and cardboard covered in blood were just some of the shocking finds made at a supermarket in Slough.

The director and manager of Marwa Superstore in High Street have been fined and banned from managing food businesses after pleading guilty to a string of food safety offences.

marwaAppearing at Slough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 25 the owner of the store, Noor Al-Huda Ltd, company director, Raghad Kadham, and day-to-day manager, Mahdi Bourhan, were all fined and ordered to pay costs.

The offences included failure to keep food in a manner which protected it from contamination, failing to keep the premises clean, and failing to have procedures in place to keep the premises free from pests.

All three were also prohibited from being involved in the management of any food business with immediate effect.

Slough Borough Council food safety manager Ann Stewart said: “Marwa clearly haven’t learned their lessons because, despite repeated warnings and food safety rating of zero, a lot of the problems we found were similar to the ones that led to its closure two years ago.

‘More info better for consumers’ NC County restaurant inspection ratings to appear on Yelp pages

Restaurant inspections have long revealed the dirtier side of food locales, including the restaurants frequented by residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

In an effort to make inspection ratings more accessible, Orange County announced Sept. 16 that it would begin posting its health inspection ratings to Yelp. A restaurant’s most recent letter grade now appears in the right-hand column of its Yelp page.

seinfeld.soupnaziVictoria Hudson, an environmental health specialist for the Orange County Health Department, conducts inspections in Carrboro and parts of Chapel Hill and UNC. She said more access to information is beneficial to consumers.

“People should be able to use these scores to assign risk,” Hudson said. “The letter ‘A’ does not necessarily give you the full picture as much as the list of comments does.”

Clicking on the inspection score on Yelp reveals more information on previous inspections, including the dates and the number of health code violations found.

In May, for example, an inspection found pink and black mold in the ice machine at R&R Grill, though mold in ice machines was not an uncommon violation at restaurants in 2013 findings. The restaurant lost 1.5 points — a half deduction — and received a 98.5 total score.

Ross Moll, the owner of R&R Grill, said employees cleaned the machine after it was discovered. The machine is cleaned weekly and inspected to prevent the problem.

“I think they do a good job coming down on people who are not up to snuff on things, and they definitely work with people to get things fixed,” Moll said about the Health Department.

Tony Sustaita, owner of Bandido’s, said the inspections help reinforce safe practices.

“Obviously the policy is to be clean all the time, but people mess up once in a while,” he said. “Any issue that is brought up in an inspection is addressed immediately.”

Both Moll and Sustaitia said displaying scores in restaurants and on Yelp helps consumers make decisions.

“I think the only ones who would be concerned would be the ones with negative scores,” Sustaita said. “We’ve had pretty good 

Fish fraud and safety in EU

Deficiencies in food safety controls governing the production and sale of Irish fishery products have been highlighted in an audit by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office.

coffs.harbour.trawlerThe audit, in May, included inspections of two fishing vessels, five landing sites and 11 facilities handling fishery products, as well as meetings with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Some 296,000 tonnes of fishery products were landed in Ireland in 2012. The audit noted that, between 2012 and 2013, there were six alerts to the international rapid alert system for food and feed involving Irish fishery products. Listeria was found in smoked salmon four times and once in crab, while there was also an alert about parasites in mackerel.

The audit team found that the official control system was not applied consistently.

“The control system presents some gaps with regard to registration/approval of cold stores, inspection of vessels, temperature recording devices, drafting and implementing food safety management systems . . .” it stated.

Cold storage

The audit team found that although two cold stores used for fishery products had been approved by the Department of Agriculture, the approval did not include the storage of fishery products. Also, the approval conditions were not satisfactory because they did not require a temperature of -18 degrees.

The authorities had not inspected some premises handling fishery products as often as stipulated. This was explained by “staff constraints”.

The cold stores and processing establishments inspected were found to have broadly met the hygiene and structural requirements.

“However, one establishment could not be considered compliant with EU requirements. There were structural deficiencies … and it was in a poor state of maintenance,” the report stated.

It found shortcomings in other establishments, such as storing exposed and packaged products in the same room and a lack of temperature-recording devices in some cold stores on vessels.

The audit made six recommendations, including the regular inspection of all fishing vessels.

It said authorities should ensure all food business operators maintained procedures based on HACCP principles and that facilities comply with requirements such as the use of temperature control devices in cold stores before being approved.

I see in your NJ future, vermin in your fortune cookies

The ubiquitous fortune cookie, a staple of any Chinese takeout, could be a cesspool of dirt, disease and disgustingness.

But it’s New Jersey.

cookie-8According to Daily Finance, when inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration visited the fortune cookie manufacturing plant in Atlanta owned by the Well Luck Co., a New Jersey company that distributes Asian food nationwide, they made some horrific discoveries. During the two-week inspection this summer, which resulted in a warning letter being issued, FDA inspectors found live and dead mice, rats and “roach-like insects.”

The FDA reported that the facility was not taking basic precautions to prevent pests, and was failing to follow many food hygiene guidelines. The FDA noted in its Sept. 17 letter that the manufacturer had not responded to requests to address the alleged violations and warned, “You should take prompt actions to correct the violations cited in this letter. Failure to promptly and adequately correct these violations may result in FDA initiation of regulatory actions, including but not limited to, seizure of your products or injunction.”

“Unpackaged fortune cookies were observed sitting directly on the floor of the fortune cookie packaging room,” the FDA letter said. “Without any barrier between the warehouse and the fortune cookie packaging room, rodents in the warehouse area have direct access into the food processing areas of the facility where they may contaminate the food, food packaging materials and food processing equipment.”

In its warning letter, the FDA said it had discovered bags of flour that had been ripped open by rodents and that both rodent feces and urine were found in the food manufacturing facility. Food and food products were on floors all around the plant, the FDA said.

“The violations, which include evidence of active rodent activity, render the products held at your facility adulterated … in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” the letter to Well Luck CEO Chris T. Li said.
Well Luck officials did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the FDA inspection and letter.

Maryland fair vendors rack up hundreds of food safety violations

More than 80 percent of the food vendors at last year’s Great Frederick Fair used unsafe food practices, according to inspections by the Frederick County Health Department.

Great Frederick FairThe department’s health inspectors recommended corrective actions for 56 of the 67 permitted vendors at the 2013 fair. The vendors’ offerings ranged from corn dogs and caramel apples to country ham sandwiches and Maryland crab soup.

Inspectors often found food that was “out of temperature” — a vendor threw out hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage links voluntarily after the items were found to be at an unsafe temperature all afternoon.

But the most frequent violations were for the vendors’ kitchen setup: permits were not displayed, wash stations had no overhead protection and coolers and freezers were missing thermometers.

The county’s inspectors generally visit vendors as soon as they set up their tent or stand. On occasion, inspectors see violations after a vendor has started serving food.

“We don’t want to hold up or hinder the fair or the vendors by not allowing them to start because there are so many vendors and so few of us,” Food Control Program Manager Wendy Cochran said.

Cochran said they expect to issue between 70 and 80 food vendor permits for this year’s fair, slightly more than last year.

Investigating the potential benefits of on-site food safety training for Folklorama, a temporary food service event

06.oct.12

Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 10, October 2012 , pp. 1829-1834(6)

Mancini, Roberto; Murray, Leigh; Chapman, Benjamin J.; Powell, Douglas A.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2012/00000075/00000010/art00014

Abstract:

Folklorama in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a 14-day temporary food service event that explores the many different cultural realms of food, food preparation, and entertainment. In 2010, the Russian pavilion at Folklorama was implicated in a foodborne outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 that caused 37 illnesses and 18 hospitalizations. The ethnic nature and diversity of foods prepared within each pavilion presents a unique problem for food inspectors, as each culture prepares food in their own very unique way. The Manitoba Department of Health and Folklorama Board of Directors realized a need to implement a food safety information delivery program that would be more effective than a 2-h food safety course delivered via PowerPoint slides. The food operators and event coordinators of five randomly chosen pavilions selling potentially hazardous food were trained on-site, in their work environment, focusing on critical control points specific to their menu. A control group (five pavilions) did not receive on-site food safety training and were assessed concurrently. Public health inspections for all 10 pavilions were performed by Certified Public Health Inspectors employed with Manitoba Health. Critical infractions were assessed by means of standardized food protection inspection reports. The results suggest no statistically significant difference in food inspection scores between the trained and control groups. However, it was found that inspection report results increased for both the control and trained groups from the first inspection to the second, implying that public health inspections are necessary in correcting unsafe food safety practices. The results further show that in this case, the 2-h food safety course delivered via slides was sufficient to pass public health inspections. Further evaluations of alternative food safety training approaches are warranted.

It’s all about knowing your supplier (sic); Rancho Feeding Corp. in US charged with selling sick, unfit cattle

A federal grand jury has indicted Rancho Feeding Corp., the Petaluma, California, slaughterhouse at the center of a massive beef recall, for processing animals condemned by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors and processing others that were known to have eye cancer.

Rancho Feeding CorpThe indictment, dated last Thursday, charges Rancho co-owner Jesse J. Amaral Jr. and two workers, foreperson Felix Sandoval Cabrera and yardperson Eugene D. Corda, with 11 felony counts, including distribution of adulterated and misbranded meat, mail fraud and conspiracy. Amaral pleaded not guilty during a Monday morning hearing and was released on $50,000 bail. The status of Cabrera and Corda is still pending.

In a filing Monday, prosecutors informed U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer that Rancho’s co-owner, Robert Singleton, will be indicted on a single count of distributing adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat. The filing says the U.S. Attorney’s Office anticipates that Singleton will plead guilty and cooperate with prosecution of the other Rancho defendants. The main indictment, which does not name Singleton as a defendant, refers to him only as “R.S.”

The indictment alleges that Amaral and R.S. directed employees to circumvent inspection procedures for cows that exhibited signs of epithelioma, including lumps and other abnormalities around the eyes, from mid-2012 until January 2014.

According to the indictment, Cabrera, the foreperson, swapped uninspected cows for cattle that had already passed inspection and were awaiting slaughter. Then employees slaughtered the cancerous cattle and deposited their heads in a gut bin, the indictment says. Employees then allegedly placed the heads from apparently healthy cattle next to the carcasses of the diseased cattle during the inspectors’ lunch breaks.

Employees are also said to have carved out “USDA Condemned” stamps from other carcasses. 

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

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

FunkyChickenHiThe 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”.

chicken.wrap.campyThe 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.

55 kg of rotten meat seized at railway station in India

At least 55 kg of rotten meat products were seized by Food Safety inspectors and Railway officials at the Ernakulam Junction railway station on Monday.

Expired-meatThe packets containing the meat products, including pork items, were sent from Chennai by the Chennai-Allapuzha Express. The expired meat was seized when it was unloaded at the railway station.

According to Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials, they opened the packets when foul smell emanated from them.

“The meat products were packaged as fish. When we opened the boxes, it was found that two of the boxes were containing foul-smelling pork meat. The meat was at least one year old,” the officials said.

Several meat packets, inscribed ‘bacon’, were found to be packed in August 2013.

Mystery of kitchen’s ‘clean bill of health’ in Malta

St Vincent de Paul home for the elderly was “in constant breach” of health and food hygiene regulations and it was difficult to understand how it was given “a clean bill of health” in previous months, a report by the Institute for Tourism Studies has concluded.

St Vincent de Paul home for the elderlyThe report, extracts of which were seen by Times of Malta, also points out that the home for the elderly – the country’s largest – did not have a system to identify and control food safety hazards.

“In view of the fact that no HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points or Security System] is in place… one fails to understand how the… kitchen was for the last few months given a clean bill of health,” according to the report, completed on May 30.

On Tuesday Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly Justyne Caruana announced that the kitchen would be closed down and rebuilt.