Campy hasn’t stabilized in Ireland

Within Ireland, the Food Safety Authority (FSAI) today stated that campylobacteriosis continues to be the most commonly reported foodborne illness in Ireland with 10 times more cases of campylobacteriosis being reported than salmonellosis. 

campy.chickenSome 2,288 cases of food poisoning due to Campylobacter were recorded in 2013, compared to over 2,600 in 2014.* The FSAI noted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) annual figures for foodborne illness published today which suggests that the campylobacteriosis figures across Europe have stabilised, but that is not the experience in Ireland. 

The FSAI states that the figures recorded by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland are the highest since campylobacteriosis became legally notifiable in 2004 and requires cross industry and consumer responses to be undertaken to tackle the problem.  The FSAI would support setting a microbiological hygiene standard for poultry meat at European level.  This would create a maximum tolerance level for Campylobacter in poultry which could be reviewed over time.  A similar approach was adopted as part of European controls for Salmonella which proved successful.

According to Dr Wayne Anderson, Director of Food Science and Standards, FSAI, salmonellosis was a major issue in Ireland 15 years ago, but due to the efforts of the Irish industry to control and reduce Salmonella contamination in eggs and poultry there has been a radical decrease in its incidence and impact on public health.

 “A similar effort is now required to reduce Campylobacter infections which can be serious and life threatening in vulnerable people. For Salmonella control, regulations were put in place which set a maximum tolerance for Salmonella in raw poultry amongst other controls. There is a need to set similar tolerance levels for Campylobacter and this would drive new control measures throughout the food chain to reduce its occurrence,” he says. “If the industry from producer right through to retailer comes together to put in specific measures to reduce the level of Campylobacter on poultry like it did for Salmonella, it would have a positive impact on the number of people becoming sick,” he said.

Second worst year for food closure orders in Ireland

Dead rats, bags of cows’ skins and mold-covered mayonnaise were just some of the reasons for the temporary closure of restaurants and other food outlets this year, according to records released by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

checking-meat-630x343Alison Healy of The Irish Times, writes the records, released under the Freedom of Information Act, also show environmental health officers ordered the temporary closure of premises because of filthy kitchens, rat and mouse droppings, and bizarrely, a wellington filled with cigarette ash.

The wellington was found on the premises of Giles Brothers Fish Shop in Phibsborough, Dublin, where an environmental health officer also found a radiator “covered in filthy cigarette ash”. He said the premises had a “history of non-compliance with food legislation”.

The order was lifted a few days later when the problems were remedied.

While final figures are not yet available for this year, it will be the second worst year on record for the number of closure and other enforcement orders issued.

Some 113 orders were served up until December 23rd, compared with 143 enforcement orders in 2013, which was the highest number to date. In 2012, 109 orders were issued.

Dr Bernard Hegarty, the authority’s director of service contracts, said environmental health officers were still finding “shocking conditions” in some premises.

“We’re seeing places where inspectors are finding evidence of pest infestations, of cockroaches, rodents and so on. Really there’s no excuse for that,” he said. “And that’s really not where a business should be if it wants to protect the safety and health of its customers.”

He said there were about 48,000 food businesses in the State “so we are still looking at quite small numbers of breaches” but there was no excuse for these breaches.

Ethnic food businesses accounted for more than half of the orders issued this year. Dr Hegarty said the FSAI was providing training initiatives focusing on sectors such as ethnic restaurants.

UK dog found eating raw meat in illegal Co Armagh meat farm

Pictures of a dog eating raw meatd being prepared for the human food chain in an illegal Co Armagh butchery, have been released by a council.

dog meat farmThe owner of the premises Benard Muchan of Back Road, Mullaghbawn was arrested when police visited the shed in October 2012.

He pleaded guilty to ten offences relating to breaches of food safety regulations and was fined £10,000.

Newry and Mourne Council, which took the case, said conditions in the facility were “filthy.”

Environmental health officers called to scene found several beef carcases hanging in a makeshift butchery and cold room.

The council’s assistant director of environmental health Eoin Devlin said: “The premises, food contact surfaces and equipment were found to be in a filthy condition with decaying food debris and blood.

Juicing firm among 11 businesses hit with closure orders in Ireland last month

A juicing company which supplies fruit and vegetable juices to health-conscious consumers was temporarily closed last month because of food safety concerns.

Pure Green JuicesPure Green Juices, in Dublin 15, was served with a closure order at its processing plant in Millennium Business Park, in Dublin 15, on November 7, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) revealed.

The order was lifted on November 10, allowing normal operations to resume.

Pure Green Juices supplies raw fruit and vegetable drinks to customers who want to “detox” their bodies of impurities.

Its manager, Jimmy Burns, said the order had been imposed because the company was expanding and knocking down a wall.

A food safety compliance officer had arrived when the construction work was beginning and imposed the closure order to prevent any possible contamination of the juices.

In total, 11 businesses received closure orders in November, which are imposed when there is deemed likely to be “a grave and immediate danger to public health at or in the premises.”

FSAI chief executive Professor Alan Reilly warned businesses to be vigilant about safety, especially in the busy Christmas period when they are supplying increased volumes of food.

‘E. coli festering in the microwave’ surprise for four beer and chips-loving Irish students

Conor, Padraig, Brian and Paddy are students at Athlone Institute of Technology, and have been supplementing their studies with a diet of beer and chips while dangerous E. coli festers in their microwave.

Doctor+in+the+House+-+Ep5+(1)The lads, all in their 20s, are blissfully unaware of the dangers of their diet and lifestyle, and the consequences of coming into contact with E. coli.

The doctors, including Dr. Nina Byrnes, Dr. Sinead Beirne and Professor Niall Moyna, learn that Conor has a family history of heart problems and is concerned for his own cardiac health.

Brian is addicted to sugar and video games, Padraig is a man who seems to be a little too fond of his pints, and Paddy is the healthiest in this not so healthy student house.

Apart from their dodgy diet, Dr. Nina Byrnes encounters something a little more disturbing.  She finds E. coli growing in their much-loved microwave and sends the swab to the lab.

“It grew a very heavy growth of bacteria called E. coli,” she says.

“At the very severe end of E. coli, there’s a particular strain of E. coli that can cause kidney failure and death and that was growing in your microwave.

Terrified by the revelation the lads are quick to sign up to an eight week exercise programme and lifestyle overhaul.  But can they ditch their beer-swilling and chip-ingesting ways?

Doctor in the House episode 5 airs Monday 10th November at 9pm on TV3.

‘Breaches completely avoidable’ 15 food businesses closed in Ireland last month

Eight restaurants across the country were hit by closure orders by Ireland’s food safety watchdog last month.

fsaiThe Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued the orders to nine food businesses in Dublin and one each in Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary, Wexford and Roscommon.

Commenting on the high level of orders served in October, Professor Alan Reilly of the FSAI, warns that the legal onus is on food businesses to act responsibly and ensure that the food they serve and sell is safe to eat.

“While most food businesses follow high standards and are compliant with food safety legislation, we continue to encounter cases where consumers’ health is jeopardised through a failure to comply with food safety and hygiene requirements. These breaches are completely avoidable when food businesses have proper food safety management systems in place.”

This is the song that never ends: Regulations for sale of raw milk being considered in Ireland (paid for by taxpayers)

Regulatory standards for the sale of raw milk are being examined by the Irish Department of Agriculture, following years of uncertainty over the sale of the milk, which is not pasteurized.

SB_SongThatNeverEnds-eBookNative.480x480-75The department banned the sale of raw cow’s milk in 1996 over concerns about the health risks but EU hygiene legislation in 2006 legally permitted it.

Once the implications of EU legislation were realised, some farmers began to sell raw milk again but in 2011 the government said it would ban the sale of the milk on the advice of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

However, last year, the Department of Health received legal advice stating it could not introduce secondary legislation under the Health Acts and it told the Department of Agriculture it was a matter for it to decide whether to introduce the primary legislation required.

Asked if it was planning to bring this legislation forward, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said the department was “currently assessing the options available to it to counter the risks associated with the sale of unpasteurised milk for direct human consumption”.

He said a particular option being considered was the introduction of specified regulatory standards to apply to the sale of raw milk. He did not give a time frame for the introduction of such standards. The spokesman said unpasteurised milk could contain disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli O157, salmonellosis and brucellosis.

‘Food businesses must recognize legal onus is on them to ensure safe food; 14 enforcement orders served on food businesses in Sept. in Oct.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today reported that twelve Closure Orders and two Prohibition Orders were served on food businesses during the month of September for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010. The Orders were issued by environmental health officers in the Health Service Executive.

Kebabish TandooriFive Closure Orders were served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on:

Kebabish Tandoori (restaurant), 39 Lower Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 

Sami Halal Store (grocery), 63 Upper Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 

Asian Foods (grocery), Blackrock Market, 19a Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Quinns (public house), 42-44 Drumcondra Road Lower, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Kilcoran Lodge Hotel (excludes sale and service of beverages at hotel bar), Kilcoran, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Seven Closure Orders were served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010 on:

KOI (restaurant), Unit 5, 32-36 Main Street, Malahide, Co. Dublin

Slane Bake (bakery), High Street, Slane, Meath

Phoenix House Chinese Takeaway, The Square, Tubbercurry, Sligo

SRM Book and Cook (bakery), Unit 8, Block 3, City North Business Campus, Stamullen, Meath

The Docks Hotel 001 (2)_lJuno’s Café, 26 Parkgate Street, Dublin 8

Docks Hotel (closed: all food operations including bar, nightclub and the service of all food and drinks), 15 Craywell Road, John Street, New Ross, Wexford

Palki Indian Restaurant, Bowgate Court, Bowgate Street, Ballinrobe, Mayo

Two Prohibition Orders were served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on: 

Sami Halal Store (grocery), 63 Upper Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 

Quinns (public house), 42-44 Drumcondra Road, Lower Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Also during the month of September, two successful prosecutions were carried out by the Health Service Executive on:

Shangri-La Restaurant, High Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Station House Hotel, Lower Main Street, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Commenting on the high level of Closure Orders served on food businesses in September, Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI, states that food businesses need to be vigilant in relation to food safety at all times to ensure full compliance with food regulations.

“The environmental health officers who inspect these food businesses continue to find unacceptable levels of non-compliance with food safety legislation.  Time and time again, they encounter cases of food businesses that are potentially putting their customers’ health at risk by not complying with their legal obligations for food safety and hygiene. There is absolutely no excuse for negligent practices,” he says.  “Food businesses must recognise that the legal onus is on them to make sure that the food they serve is safe to eat.  This requires ongoing compliance with food safety and hygiene standards to ensure the food they are producing is safe to consume all day and every day. Food safety must be paramount.”

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.