Health risks found in eight Irish food outlets

Supervalu was issued with a prohibition order banning the sale of certain cooked meats and cheeses at one of its Dublin stores last month.

Inspection-Restaurants-Rats-Droppings-CockroachesIt was one of eight food businesses issued with an enforcement action in August, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said.

The Supervalu store on Main St, Ballymun, Dublin 11 was issued with the prohibition order on August 26 banning the sale of all high risk foods such as cooked meats and cheeses stored in a fridge in its deli area.

Prohibition orders ban the sale of a certain batch of food, if it is believed it could pose a serious risk to public health.

Supervalu’s parent group Musgrave said the prohibition order specifically related to one fridge and was resolved on August 29 when the fridge in question was upgraded.

Seven restaurants and pubs were issued with closure orders during August.

These included Juno’s Café Deli, Parkgate St, Dublin 8; Tasty Bite, Main St, Bantry, Cork; Abbey Tavern, The Square, Tuam, Galway; Akash restaurant, George’s Ave, Blackrock, Co Dublin; Fuchsia House & Gables Bar, Ardee, Co Louth and the food preparation area of The Larches Bar, Claremorris, Co Mayo.

All of these had the orders lifted as soon as the problems were rectified.

Professor Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the FSAI, stated that “vigilance is always required in relation to food safety and that standards must not be permitted to slip to such levels that consumer health is put at risk.”

E coli cases set to rise as more opt to use well water in Ireland

‘Are ye still using your own well?” At least once a year my sister Rose asks us this question when she visits. As I nod my head in acquiescence, she inevitability shakes hers in disbelief.

well.waterDr Rose FitzGerald is a Specialist in Public Health Medicine with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and she and her colleagues are the ones who deal at a management level with outbreaks of infection such as those which can occur from drinking contaminated well water.

Outside of this glitch in our character Rose would know us as not otherwise unreasonable people but so frustrated has she become by this behaviour of ours and others in drinking untreated well water than she has come up with the following analogy.

“Drinking your own water while giving system water to the cattle is akin to a dairy farmer drinking milk from his bulk tank while feeding pasteurised milk to his calves.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 720,000 people in Ireland, 17pc of the population, concentrated in rural areas, get their water from private wells. But those who contract VTEC infections are more than twice as likely to have drank well water than the population as a whole. Moreover, as Rose points out, investigations regularly find the exact same organism in the well as in the humans who have been sick.

Concern over shellfish safety controls in Ireland

A “significant” number of recommendations involving shellfish food safety controls still have not been fully addressed, more than two years after they were made, a new audit by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office has found.

Raw oystersThe latest audit on some Irish-produced shellfish, carried out last October, found that the control system in place for the production and placing on the market of bivalve molluscs, which includes blue mussels, pacific oysters, king scallops and razor clams, presented “several deficiencies”.

These were in the classification and monitoring of production areas and in the official control of scallops and gastropods, a category that includes whelks and periwinkles.

Why I don’t eat raw oysters: Norovirus genotypes implicated in two oyster-related illness outbreaks in Ireland

We investigated norovirus (NoV) concentrations and genotypes in oyster and faecal samples associated with two separate oyster-related outbreaks of gastroenteritis in Ireland. Quantitative analysis was performed using real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and phylogenetic analysis was conducted to establish the NoV genotypes present.

Raw oystersFor both outbreaks, the NoV concentration in oysters was >1000 genome copies/g digestive tissue and multiple genotypes were identified. In faecal samples, GII.13 was the only genotype detected for outbreak 1, whereas multiple genotypes were detected in outbreak 2 following the application of cloning procedures. While various genotypes were identified in oyster samples, not all were successful in causing infection in consumers. In outbreak 2 NoV GII.1 was identified in all four faecal samples analysed and NoV GII concentrations in faecal samples were >108 copies/g. This study demonstrates that a range of NoV genotypes can be present in highly contaminated oysters responsible for gastroenteritis outbreaks.

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 142 / Issue 10 / October 2014, pp 2096-2104

P. RAJKO-NENOW, S. KEAVENEY, J. FLANNERY, A. McINTYR and W. DORÉ

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9320778&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG&utm_reader=feedly

Fancy food ain’t safe food, Irish edition: Dead rat, cows’ feet and mold found in Ireland food businesses

A dead rat, mouldy food and cows’ feet are among the health threats which have seen dozens of restaurants and other food businesses falling foul of health inspections this year.

townbarandgrillFormer celebrity haunt Town Bar & Grill was served with a closure order in February, after an environmental health officer found a dead rat and rodent droppings at the Kildare Street premises. Management at the glamorous restaurant – which once played host to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Gerry Ryan and Martin Sheen – were ordered to put a proper pest-control system in place.

The order was lifted a day later, after the problem had been sorted out, but the restaurant was sold and relaunched weeks later under a different name and with new management.

But Town Bar & Grill was far from alone in being found to have serious hygiene issues. The Irish Independent has learned the disconcerting details behind many of the 47 closures of restaurants, shops and manufacturers countrywide in 2014.

Closure orders are the strongest weapon health inspectors have to tackle food safety threats. These are issued to all or part of a premises when a “grave and immediate danger to public health” is deemed likely.

The number of businesses being slapped with these enforcement orders has spiralled in the last five years, with 119 premises receiving closure orders in 2013, compared to 34 in 2009.

As the high level of closure orders continues this summer, with seven in July alone, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has repeated its warning to businesses that the legal onus is on them to make sure the food they serve and sell is safe to eat. FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said each closure order undermined consumer confidence in the industry.

Irish child care remains closed to assist E. coli cleaning

A childcare facility in Cavan remains closed for cleaning following an outbreak of E. coli over four weeks ago. In a statement to Northern Sound News, the HSE say there have been factors relating to the cleaning and the fabric of the crèche that have been outside of the control of the Health Executive and under the control of the crèche management.

daycare_children_pictures_242_op_800x533The HSE was notified of the latest case of E. coli at the childcare facility in Cavan over one month ago. It followed a confirmed case of a similar infection in another child in the same facility in April. The Health Service Executive says no source was identified for the infection in the previous case.

Irish childcare facility closed due to E. coli outbreak

A childcare facility in county Cavan will remain closed until the area is cleaned following an outbreak of verotoxigenic E. coli.

HSE-300x162The Health Service Executive says that they were notified of a case of E. coli in a child at the facility in county Cavan. It followed a confirmed case of a similar infection in another attendee at the same facility back in April. The HSE was notified of the latest case of E. coli in a child at this facility over three weeks ago. It followed a confirmed case of a similar infection in another attendee at the same childcare facility back in April. The Health Service Executive says no source was identified for the infection in the previous case.

Food fraud — a history lesson

Alan Reilly, chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland writes that the oft quoted phrase; “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” might easily be applied to the food chain, particularly given the renewed attention being paid to food fraud. There are parallels between the recent incidences of food fraud and the malpractices in the food trade in the mid 19th century. Each was food.fraud.adulterationfollowed by new legislation and new arrangements for food control. In 1860, an “Act for Preventing the Adulteration of Articles of Food and Drink” came into force and this was followed in 1875, by the Sale of Food & Drugs Act.  This made it an offence to mix, colour, stain or powder any article of food with any ingredient or material, so as to render the article injurious to health, with intent to sell the article in that State, or to sell to the prejudice of the purchaser any article of food which is not of the nature, substance and quality of the article demanded. These provisions are as relevant today as they were 150 years ago, especially given the increasing evidence of counterfeit foods, adulteration or substitution.

The substitution of frozen horsemeat trimmings for frozen beef trimmings uncovered first in Ireland last year is a stark reminder of times past and the menace to consumers and the industry alike, posed by people who set out to deliberately deceive. In the wake of the EU-wide horsemeat incident, the European Commission (EC) and Member States are in the process of strengthening the fight against food crime. Food authorities, police forces and finance authorities are mindful now of the need to work together. The risks to the food supply are no longer those posed by chemical, biological, or physical hazards. Criminal intent or opportunity and intentional violation of the law must be taken into account when assessing risk. Food inspectors have to learn the ways of the criminal and the criminal investigator.

The EC is responding and legal changes are in the pipeline.  It has established a special working group of Member States, in which Europol participates, to deal with issues associated with food fraud and to drive the implementation of an action plan on fraudulent food practices. An Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System (AACS) is also being established by the EC which will be an IT network to provide a structured communication mechanism to support the exchange of food fraud information among Member States. The AACS will operate in a similar fashion to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), a mechanism for Member States to exchange information when unsafe foods pose a risk to consumer health.

food-fraudAcross the EU, a second programme of sampling and testing the authenticity of processed meat products is underway. This will be followed by further testing programmes for counterfeit honey and the authenticity of fishery products on the market. To this end, a harmonised laboratory testing regime is currently under discussion and monitoring work is expected to get underway in early 2015.
Some EU Member States, such as Italy and the Netherlands, already have dedicated specialist investigative “food police” units dealing with food crimes. They bring a different perspective to the world of food safety, using police techniques such as intelligence gathering, forensic accounting, financial investigation and communications, digital and internet proficiency. The experience of these countries is now being examined for relevance elsewhere in the EU. Of course Ireland is not without some experience in this field. For many years the Special Investigation Unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been active. This Unit has been to the forefront of investigating food crime and enforcing legislation on such matters as animal remedies and animal identification, in respect of the small subset of those involved in the sector who attempt to profit from illegal activities.

More recently in Ireland, the FSAI established a Food Fraud Task Force (FFTF) consisting of representatives from national agencies across different enforcement arms of the State. The FFTF is an advisory group which acts as a coordination and networking group where intelligence and research can be shared at national and international level. The work of the FFTF includes raising awareness, improving mechanisms for monitoring and surveillance and training of enforcement officers. The Special Investigation Unit and the Gardaí are part of the FFTF. The aim is to better coordinate the activities of all stakeholders to provide more enhanced levels of protection.

These new developments should strengthen the work of the considerable inspection and laboratory services already engaged in the enforcement of food law, whose work is coordinated and overseen by the FSAI through the service contract process. The combined work of the staff in the various official agencies ensures the safety and authenticity of food, from primary production to the sale and marketing of food to the consumer. The official agencies and the FSAI also cooperate with the Custom and Excise Service of the Revenue Commissioners and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation of An Garda Síochána, leading to the recent detection of the marketing of counterfeit vodka and the fraudulent re-labelling of foods with new “use by” dates.
While official food control services are regrouping in response to the new threats to the food supply, the food industry has to do likewise and assess potential food fraud threats.

Changes are already taking place. Over the past year, retailers and the meat processing sector introduced meat speciation testing for all processed meat products as part of their routine food safety management programmes. This is a welcome development. The industry also needs to ensure the validity of information provided on labels and for guaranteeing the authenticity of ingredients used in the manufacture of foods.

Uncovering the horsemeat scandal was a clear reminder of times past, of the origins and reasons for our food laws, the need for continuing vigilance and the importance of learning the lessons of history.

Going public: anger over ‘lack of warning’ on E. coli at Irish beach

E. coli was detected in the water off of Bettystown beach, Co Meath, where families and young children have been swimming during the warm weather.

dp.beach.jun.13But locals are furious that the presence of the bug was not widely publicized before Wednesday, the hottest day of the year.

Meath County Council was criticized yesterday for failing to put up large notices and not having staff at Bettystown beach notifying people that the water had elevated levels of E. coli and enterococci bacteria.

However, Meath County Council said that within an hour of getting the results of tests on the water that it erected a notice at the entrance to the beach and put it on its website.

But this was criticized by parents and politicians who said signage wasn’t obvious.

One mother, whose children had been in the sea on Wednesday afternoon, said she spent “all night worrying” about them.

STEC contaminates a third of private wells in Ireland

It’s estimated that 30 per cent of private wells in Ireland are contaminated with E. coli arising from animal and human waste.

Meanwhile, a report by the Health Service Executive (HSE) has found that there is a growing number of VTEC – a particularly nasty form of E. coli.

Analysis shows that Ireland has the highest incidence of  verotoxigenic E. coli, VTEC, or shiga-toxin producing E. coli, in Europe. Since 2011, the HSE has reported a doubling of the number of VTEC cases in Ireland from 284 in 2011, 554 in 2012 and 704 in 2013.

People treated for VTEC are four times more likely to have consumed untreated water from a private well. 

VTEC infection is most common in children and in up to 8 per cent of cases patients go on to develop serious kidney complications.

“These can, on rare occasions, prove fatal.  This is all preventable,” said Dr Una Fallon, Public Health Specialist in the HSE and Chair of the HSE National Drinking Water Group.

The EPA says rural families in Ireland are commonly affected and much of this is because of contaminated private wells. Consumers of water from private wells at much greater risk of VTEC than those who drink water from mains supplies, they said.

“It can take a long time for the bug to clear even after the child has become well,” said the EPA.

The EPA estimate that 50,000 private wells in Ireland are contaminated with human or animal waste which can cause significant threat to people’s health.

David Flynn, Programme Manager for the EPA said that ”people assume that because their water comes from a well or a spring that it’s completely pure and safe to drink, but that is not necessarily the case”.

“Sometimes, we find that people can develop immunity themselves, but visitors to the house, particularly children and the elderly are at risk of getting very sick,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have said that people have to do more to protect their well from contamination and have developed a new assessment tool ‘Protect your Well’.

well.infographic.jun.14