Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK restaurant critic Oliver Peyton’s bar ‘covered with mouse droppings’

Dave Burke of the Daily Mail reports a kitchen in an upmarket Westminster bar owned by restaurant critic Oliver Peyton’s company was covered in mouse droppings, a court has heard.

oliver-peytonThe plush ICA Bar was owned by Peyton & Byrne Ltd, a firm co-owned by Irish restaurateur Oliver Peyton, who is a judge on BBC show Great British Menu.

The company has since gone bust. 

Inspectors discovered mouse droppings inside food storage containers and a sandwich sealing machine, Westminster Magistrates Court heard.

And they found that rodents were trying to nest under the sink by chewing up paper hand towels, prosecutors claim.

The court was told mouse droppings were discovered on a tray where ready-to-eat sandwiches are kept before they are wrapped in cling film.

Westminster Council, which is prosecuting the business, says inspectors found more on the floor in the food storage areas, shelves near food preparation areas and on shelves containing bottles of olive oil.

Even more droppings were discovered on the lids of jars containing ready-to-eat food such as hazelnut paste, sugar cubes, chestnuts and popping candies, it is alleged.

The firm went into administration last month, after the first court hearing into health and safety breaches at the ICA Bar.

French company Sodexo bought the firm’s remaining catering contracts, while the Peyton family took over the bakery side of the business.

The charges the company face include a further allegation that mouse droppings and grease was found in the washing up areas and all over shelves holding cleaning products and paper towels.

Inspectors noted that two rolls of blue hand paper towel underneath the sink in the wash-up room had been gnawed by mice.

portraits-people-003Cracked tiles were found in the kitchen, possibly giving the pests a place to nest.

The company was summoned to court face eight charges of failing to comply with food safety and hygiene provisions, but no-one from the now defunct firm showed up.

Prosecutor Kirsty Pantin, for Westminster Council, applied to district judge Paul Goldspring for the case to be adjourned so the administrators, Deloitte, could be contacted.

‘The company has gone into administration after the last hearing when pleas were meant to be entered,’ said Ms Panton.

Be careful: Pet food – raw, frozen, processed – can be contaminated

My new best friend – Ted, the dog – came from a breeder in Toowoomba, about 90 minutes away, atop Australia’s Great Dividing Ridge.

ted-grass-nov-16He weighs less than our cats, but is feisty and loves a walk.

Or a run.

The breeder (we went to the local shelters, but they had dogs that were not deemed appropriate by our townhouse body corporate) so we got the little one rather than make a rush decision to buy an $800K house so we could have a bigger dog.

Besides, this one’s got personality.

The breeder insisted that dogs do better on a raw meat diet.

I just wanted to get the dog, go visit our friends, and go home, so didn’t belabor the point.

But any raw product carries the same risk of Salmonella and E. coli and other things that are not fun to inflict on your dog.

Natures Menu is recalling its ‘Country Hunter 80% Farm Reared Turkey with Wholesome Fruit and Veg’ frozen pet food, because the product contains Salmonella.

The UK Food Standards Agency is issuing this product recall notice because we are responsible for animal feed regulations and their enforcement through local authorities.sorenne-ted

Make it mandatory: Voluntary restaurant inspection ratings are silly

According to new research by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), only a third (34%) of us regularly check food hygiene ratings before eating in a restaurant or takeaway. With an estimated 4.3 million meals expected to be eaten out over this festive period, FSA is urging people to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating before booking this Christmas.

respect-authorityThe research, released ahead of the expected Christmas spike in restaurant bookings, found that although food hygiene and safety were of concern for 37% of people, only 6% said that they actively consider the food hygiene rating when deciding where to eat. Other priorities included:

quality/type of food (58%)

own experience of the place (32%)

location/convenience (23%)

good service (21%)

price (20%)

appearance (20%)

recommendation (19%)

Mark O’Neill, senior advisor, local authority policy and delivery, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland said: ‘We are pleased to see that so many food businesses in Northern Ireland are already compliant with the Food Hygiene Rating Act, which came into operation in October, making it mandatory for food businesses to display their hygiene ratings. This means that around 90% of businesses should now be displaying hygiene information on a green and black sticker somewhere easy to spot outside of their premises. We expect that consumers will be pleased with this development as our recent survey showed that 95% of people in Northern Ireland believe that businesses should have to display their ratings, which now they do.

We are now urging people to look for hygiene ratings and choose restaurants which score three or above this Christmas.

Food fraud: UK unit may get more powers

The UK National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) should be given additional powers and resources to boost its ability to tackle food crime and protect consumers, a review has recommended.

horse-food-fraud-simpsonsCarried out by officials from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) under the oversight of an independent steering group, the findings are to be considered by the FSA Board at its next meeting on Wednesday 23 November.

The NFCU was set up in 2014 in the wake of the horsemeat incident, when beef was supplemented by cheaper horsemeat in a large-scale fraud across Europe. It was agreed that a review of the NFCU would take place after two years.

This follows implementation of the first phase of the unit’s work which has involved building the intelligence and evidence picture of the risks and the nature of food fraud and food crime in the UK.

The review recommends that the NFCU is made an arms-length body of the FSA, with investigatory powers, providing the agility and freedom to make day-to-day law enforcement decisions.  Currently, the unit has no investigatory powers and instead works with partners including local authorities and the police to tackle food crime.

If the FSA Board accepts the review’s recommendation, the next stage is to develop a business case and consult with other government departments on more detailed delivery options. There will also need to be in depth consultation with devolved governments and stakeholders in Wales and Northern Ireland, to ensure that a future NFCU takes into account devolved enforcement arrangements and the need for local political accountability. This further work would be completed by the end of March 2017.

Dirty UK hospitals serving out-of-date poorly stored food

I wrote a letter to the hospital in Brisbane where my friend has been holed up, complaining about serving sandwiches with raw sprouts to sick people – or anyone.

brisbane-hospital-foodThere was some totally unscientific answer about how these sprouts were special because they came from a different place and they disappeared from the sick persons menu for a few weeks.

The sprouts are now back.

Nothing new, food hygiene reports obtained by the Press Association under the UK Freedom of Information Act and data from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) concluded that dirty hospitals are serving out-of-date food to patients.

Meals are being prepared in mouldy kitchens, putting vulnerable patients at “high risk” of food poisoning, while others have unclean worktops, food trolleys and sinks.

FSA data also revealed poor rankings for hundreds of care homes and children’s nurseries.

Some 400 hospitals, hospices, care homes, nurseries and school clubs are currently listed as needing “major”, “urgent” or “necessary” improvement.

One care home was infested with cockroaches while another had evidence of rats.

The Patients Association has called the findings “shameful” and “immensely worrying”.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme – which rates organisations and businesses from zero to five – is run by the FSA and councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The investigation found:

Eight health and care premises currently have a zero rating – which means urgent improvement is necessary. None are hospitals.

Some 187 have a rating of one – which means major improvement is necessary. Three of these are hospital premises, including the private Priory Hospital in Altrincham, Cheshire (because in the UK, like its bastard child, Australia, private is considered better, except when it comes to the basics)..

hospital-foodAnd 205 are ranked as two – improvement necessary. They include six hospitals and about 100 care homes. Among those given the ranking of two was Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

At Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, an inspection of its kitchens serving patients found:

Sliced chicken two days past its use-by date (hello, Listeria?).

Staff had created their own date labels for when they thought food should be used, creating a “high risk” for patients who might develop food poisoning (food fraud)).

The experts also found leaking sinks, “inadequate” knowledge among staff about how to handle food safely, and mouldy areas, including the salad preparation room.

Food was being kept in fridges with temperatures up to 13C despite rules saying they should be 5C or below to prevent bacteria developing.

Darryn Kerr, director of facilities at Leicester’s Hospitals, said the organisation was “disappointed” by the ratings.

He said catering services were brought back in-house in May after being run by an external provider.

Parkview Residential Care Home in Bexleyheath, south-east London, was found to have an “infestation of Oriental cockroaches” during an August inspection.

The kitchen was closed voluntarily for the second time following a previous warning and inspectors gave it a zero rating.

Ivy House care home in Derby, which specialises in dementia care, scored zero after inspectors found evidence of rat activity.

Probably more restaurant specific than geographic: Pretty map shows dirtiest places to eat in UK

Alison Millington of Business Insider UK writes the Food Hygiene Rating System (FHRS) gives establishments that serve food – from hospitals to restaurants, takeaways, hotels, and grocery shops –a rating on a scale of 0 to 5, based on factors related to hygiene, to determine which establishments are cleanest and dirtiest.

Bad scores are given for poor practices such as employees not washing their hands properly, the presence of food debris or rodent activity.

Low ratings have even been shown to affect business, with a recent survey by Checkit.com of of 1,000 people from West London finding that 61% of diners wouldn’t eat in a place with a low score.

Content marketing agency Fractl looked at the data, which is collected by the Food Standards Agency, as of May 5, 2016 to compare the average ratings in locations across the UK in order to determine which regions have the best and worst food hygiene.

this-colour-coded-map-suggests-that-in-terms-of-food-safety-more-than-half-of-the-businesses-in-the-uk-have-good-or-higher-hygiene-standards

Salmonella-laden spices made in a (shag-carpeted) van down by the river

A food company has been fined £4,000 after it supplied a catering firm with a spice mix infected with salmonella.

spices-van-ukWorkers at Catermix, in Syston, UK, blended spices in the back of a dirty, carpet-lined van, and stored the resulting mixtures in a damp garage, before selling them to the catering industry.

Charnwood Borough Council launched an investigation into the now closed down firm after another local authority raised the alarm when it found the bacteria in a batch of tikka spicing supplied to a company in Preston.

The contaminated ingredients were being used in food production, including ready-made sandwiches.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court was told Charnwood environmental health officers discovered that Catermix staff were using the old van as a place to mix spices.

They also discovered the firm was not registered with Charnwood Borough Council as a food business.

Catermix stopped supplying products while the council carried out its investigation.

The Food Standards Agency also had to issue a recall notice for items containing the spice mix. One company had to withdraw more than 6,000 products.

The council said the company’s director, Chhagan (CRCT) Patel, had said he had run the company since 2000 and had worked in the food industry since 1983.

He said he bought the spices from one company, mixed them in the back of the van and then sent them to another company for further processing and bagging.

The spices were then supplied to other companies, including the one in Preston.

Mr Patel said mixing spices in the van was a temporary measure after his previous manufacturer had closed in May 2015.

He said using the van had been a last resort, but he believed the conditions in his storeroom and vehicle were acceptable.

He said he monitored the processes but did not formally record any checks.

Mr Patel accepted he did not carry out any microbiological checks on the final products which he supplied.

 

 

35K fine in UK: ‘Incapable of running a business involving food’

At St Albans Crown Court yesterday, judge Andrew Bright described hygiene standards at the Khyber Balti House in Market Place as “lamentable”, and 41-year-old Mohammed Kemal Hussain as “incapable of running a business involved in serving food”.

khyber-balti-houseHussain, of Dragon Way, Hatfield, was fined £23,000 for 23 food safety offences, and ordered to pay costs of £12,366 to the borough council.

UK farm still owes £100k over E. coli outbreak at petting zoo

In April 2014, at least 15 people, primarily children, who visited a petting farm in Lancashire were stricken with E. coli O157.

lambing-live-prestonWhen the outbreak was first reported, the UK National Farmer’s Union reassured people that petting farms are safe as long as hygiene rules are followed and that they should continue to go despite the E. coli outbreak.

Not quite.

You people are assholes.

There have been outbreaks where pathogens have been aerosolized and that handwashing was not a significant control factor.

In 2014, a UK court heard that four children suffered potentially life-threatening kidney failure after an E. coli outbreak at a Lancashire farm shop.

Huntley’s Country Stores, near Preston, admitted health and safety breaches at a lambing event in April 2014.

The four children needed life-saving kidney dialysis with one needing three operations and blood transfusions.

The farming attraction was fined £60,000 and told to pay £60,000 costs at Preston Crown Court on Monday.

In total, 15 people were struck down by the bug – 13 of them children – with nine needing hospital treatment. A further 15 possible cases were also recorded.

The court heard the tragically typical litany of errors:

  • visitors allowed uncontrolled access to lambs – children could enter animal pens and roll in feces-covered straw;
  • during bottle-feeding, lambs were allowed to climb onto seats, leaving them soiled with feces;
  • pens had open bar gates allowing contaminated bedding to spill onto main visitor area;
  • animals were densely packed, allowing bacteria build-up; and,
  • hand washing basins meant for visitors were used to clean animal feeding dishes.

Juliette Martin, of Clitheroe, took her daughter Annabelle, 7, to the ‘Lambing Live’ event at Easter in 2014.

The youngster, who had bottle-fed a lamb, suffered kidney failure and needed three operations, three blood transfusions and 11 days of dialysis.

Mrs Martin said: “If we ever thought that by feeding lambs that our daughter would be fighting for her life we would never have visited Huntley’s.”

Now, while the company has “accepted responsibility in court for failings in the assessment of risks” it hasn’t paid up.

The latest count is more than 20 children ill from the 2014 visit, and the owners of Huntley’s Country Stores still owe more than £100,000 after being convicted of health and safety offences in December 2015.

Managing director Harry Wilson appeared before Blackburn magistrates to ask for more time to pay the financial penalties.

Magistrates were told that the outfit had repaid £14,800 of the court costs, leaving £45,120 outstanding. But the £60,000 fine was still owed, the court was told.

Mr Wilson told magistrates that the after effects of the publicity surrounding the E.coli case, which was brought by South Ribble Council, were still being felt by the business.

Questioned by magistrates about how the outstanding sums could be met, he said: “At the present moment we cannot afford any more because we are just starting to get the business going. It might be two years before we recover.”

Huntley’s had been previously ordered to pay £5,000 every three months.

Magistrates ordered that they should be required to find £1,000 every month instead, up to and including May 2017. The penalty would then resume at its previous rate.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.

Food safety fairytales: With over 400 sick, Wahaca says ‘we have never had such an unprecedented incident’

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers, the co-founders of Brit-Mex restaurant chain, Wahaca, write that last week a number of our staff and customers were struck down by what is suspected to be the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.

wahacaWe assessed each case and when it became clear they were not isolated incidents, we got in touch with relevant officials at Public Health England and Environmental Health Offices. In tandem with that, we took our own precautionary measures – voluntarily closing affected restaurants, carrying out anti-viral deep cleaning at all of our restaurants, whether affected or not, and ensuring that any staff member who had reported illness remained off site until their symptoms had ceased for at least 48 hours.

Our amazing teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have done everything within our power to limit any risk to our customers and team members, and the situation remains under control and we continue to work with all local authorities to monitor this closely.

The majority of our restaurants are open and we hope to reopen the 4 remaining sites, on a case by case basis, as soon as we feel we are ready to do so.

We are incredibly sorry that people have been unwell. In the 9 years since we first opened Wahaca we have never had such an unprecedented incident, and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of how this may have happened.

And monkeys may fly out of my butt.

Winning food awards isn’t the same as not serving poop.

waynesworld-monkeys