Food get real when kids die: Cheesemaker goes to E. coli court

One of Scotland’s leading cheesemakers has pinned his hopes on legal action to keep his business open after it was caught up in an E. coli outbreak.

dunsyre-blu-e-coli-cheeseHumphrey Errington is seeking a judicial review to prevent Food Standards Scotland (FSS) from destroying all his stocks of Dunsyre Blue, which it claims lay behind the outbreak that affected 22 people and led to the death of a three-year-old girl.

Mr Errington said that unless the court rules in his favour his Lanarkshire firm Errington Cheese is “finished” and will have to close.

The company has gone to the Court of Session to ask for a suspension of instructions from FSS ordering enforcement officials to “seek out and destroy” all stocks of the product.

It is also seeking details of tests carried out by the agency which linked the cheese to the outbreak, after the firm’s own tests were unable to find the bacteria.

Mr Errington said: “We had no choice but to take this to court, otherwise we would have been shut down for ever.”

Sorta like the 3-year-old.

After the outbreak last summer the FSS banned sales of five brands of cheese sold by Mr Errington’s company: Dunsyre Blue, Dunsyre Baby, Lanark Blue, Lanark White, Maisie’s Kebbuck and Cora Linn. Customers who had bought the cheeses were asked to return them.

Professor Hugh Pennington, an expert on E.coli has questioned the proportionality of the food watchdog’s decision to issue a blanket ban on the sale of all cheeses from Errington.

The emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said FSS had come down “very heavily” on Errington Cheese, stating there is a “real possibility” the organisation was “over-interpreting scientific evidence”.

He said that the “jury was still out” and while there may be a “moderately strong” case on Dunsyre Blue, there was “no scientific evidence” on any of the firm’s other cheeses.

FSS deny this, saying all all results from samples were shared with Errington and insist decision take to recall Errington Cheese Ltd products are “evidence-based and informed by interpretation from experts including legally designated food examiners”.

The FSS also intends to take further action to clamp down on any manufacturer using unpasteurised “raw” milk and has issued a letter to all local authorities requiring them to apply new and stringent tests on the presumption that any cheese made this way is unsafe.

The order applies to hundreds of cheesemakers, including some famous brands, and has led to some claiming they are being made subject to regulations far more severe than other food producers.

Blame the media: Crypto reporting in England

During August 2015, a boil water notice (BWN) was issued across parts of North West England following the detection of Cryptosporidium oocysts in the public water supply.

les_nessmanUsing prospective syndromic surveillance, we detected statistically significant increases in the presentation of cases of gastroenteritis and diarrhea to general practitioner services and related calls to the national health telephone advice service in those areas affected by the BWN.

In the affected areas, average in-hours general practitioner consultations for gastroenteritis increased by 24.8% (from 13.49 to 16.84) during the BWN period; average diarrhea consultations increased by 28.5% (from 8.33 to 10.71). Local public health investigations revealed no laboratory reported cases confirmed as being associated with the water supply. These findings suggest that the increases reported by syndromic surveillance of cases of gastroenteritis and diarrhea likely resulted from changes in healthcare seeking behaviour driven by the intense local and national media coverage of the potential health risks during the event.

 This study has further highlighted the potential for media-driven bias in syndromic surveillance, and the challenges in disentangling true increases in community infection from those driven by media reporting.

The potential impact of media reporting in syndromic surveillance: An example using a possible Cryptosporidium exposure in north west England, August to September 2015

Euro Surveill. 2016;21(41):pii=30368. DOI:

AJ Elliot, HE Hughes, J Astbury, G Nixon, K Brierley, R Vivancos, T Inns, V Decraene, K Platt, I Lake, SJ O’Brien, GE Smith

UK McDonald’s forced to close after staff find dead mice

Josh Parry and Tyler Mears of the Mirror report a McDonald’s restaurant in Liverpool was forced to close this week after staff found dead mice at the branch.

mcdonaldsBosses confirmed the restaurant was closed for a “short period” after evidence of mice was discovered at the fast food joint.

They said the eaterie in Walton Road has taken steps to address the issue after they called in pest control.

They also insisted there was “no concern regarding food safety” and apologised for the temporary closure of the store.

More throwing poop: Drunk man in UK police cell hurled poop at CCTV camera

A disgruntled man pooped on the floor of a police cell after his request for toilet roll was said to have been ignored.

pay-shoplifter-poops-on-supermarket-floorIan Brock, 31, was caught on CCTV pulling his trousers down and defecating in a corner.

He then smeared his own excrement on the walls and threw a lump of it at the camera.

Brock, of Rectory Road, Llangwm, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage when he appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Tuesday (October 4).

Prosecutor Vaughan Pritchard-Jones said Brock had been arrested for an unrelated matter and was “highly intoxicated” when he carried out the dirty protest.

“In interview, he admitted what he had done and said he was disgusted with himself,” said Mr Pritchard-Jones.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: ‘Live rat’ lands on woman’s head UK edition

A rodent believed to have been a live rat fell from the ceiling and landed on a woman’s head as she dined at a fancy London restaurant.

smiths-of-smithfieldThe animal, only a baby at three inches long, was killed on impact when it hit the woman and bounced on to the table at expensive Smiths of Smithfield where the woman was eating with a group of friends.

Obviously horrified by what happened, their party started protesting at what had happened, alerting staff to the unwelcome garnish to their food.

‘We were disgusted,’ witness Paul Stubbs, a 56-year-old city worker from Harrow in North West London told the Sun.

‘It was only a baby but still about three inches long. It had obviously fallen from a nest in the open vents.

‘People were pretty horrified. Everybody stayed to finish, though I wouldn’t go back.’

The restaurant reportedly offered the group of 24 a £450 discount from their bill.

Staff allegedly told customers that the small rodent was a mouse – however, pest control experts told the Sun they were ‘fairly convinced’ it was a baby rat.

The restaurant, rated 3.5 stars on TripAdvisor, is situated next to the capital’s only working meat market and is famous for its rare breed steak and prime cuts. has contacted Smiths of Smithfield for a comment on the rat/possibly a baby mouse incident.

A spokesman previously said: ‘At Smiths we pride ourselves on our hygiene and food safety management. We have investigated the matter fully and this is an isolated incident and we confirm that there is no risk to our customers.’

He went on to say the diners ‘were offered what was accepted as reasonable compensation.’

The Brits ooze with empathy.

‘Mouse droppings were everywhere’: a day in the life of a food inspector

Kate Lyons of The Guardian writes: When you’ve been a food safety inspector for as long as Sharon Nkansah, you know how to smell a rat.

sharon-nkansah“Last month, there was a place I inspected [where] I walked in and you could smell it,” she says. “You can smell mouse activity. They had droppings in fridges, where they have their sauces, where they have their cutlery; the droppings were everywhere. So I just said: ‘Pull the shutters down’.”

You also learn tricks to catch out wily business owners. The best time to inspect a suspect business is in the morning, she says, before staff have had a chance to sweep up anything nasty deposited overnight.

Nkansah has worked as a food safety inspector for Newham borough council in east London for 10 years. As we move between businesses throughout the day, she is fun and chatty, talking about her children and her recent holiday, but as soon as she’s in a kitchen, her bright patterned dress is covered with a white coat and her braids are tucked under a hairnet. She becomes brisk, businesslike, at times tough.

Her repeated refrain, delivered to staff at the takeaways she inspects who ask her for food hygiene advice, is: “I am not here to train you, I am here to enforce.”

A firm approach is needed in Newham. A Guardian analysis of Food Standards Agency data found that the borough has the lowest food hygiene scores in the country: 26% of its food businesses fail inspections, rising to 50.4% for takeaways. Far from being embarrassed by these numbers, Matthew Collins, a principal environmental health officer at the council, and Nkansah’s boss, sees them as a point of pride.

“I think it’s an indication that we’re out doing our jobs,” he says.

Nkansah began her career as a chef, but wanted a job with more child-friendly hours after having children, so did a one-year degree in food hygiene and began working as an inspector in Newham.

Cuts to local government funding have meant the number of food inspectors has declined in recent years. The ratio of food safety inspectors to businesses has dropped from 4.2 full-time inspectors per 1,000 food businesses in 2012-13, to 3.7 per 1,000 in 2014-15. This figure is dragged down considerably by England, where there are only 3.2 officers per 1,000 businesses, compared with 5.7 per 1,000 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The job, says Nkansah, is satisfying, but it comes at a cost: she has seen what goes on in the back rooms of takeaways, cafes and restaurants.

Before going to a new restaurant, Nkansah says she always looks up its food safety rating. When asked if she would eat somewhere that scored zero, one or two, Nkansah is appalled. “Absolutely not,” she says.

15 sickened with E. coli O157 in 2015: UK butchers prosecuted over alleged food hygiene offences

In June and July, 2015, 15 people were sickened with E. coli O157 from Robinsons Butchers and Caterers in Billingham, UK.

e-coli-tia-donaldsonIn May 2016, Durham County Council decided it would take no action against the butcher even though cross-contamination was the likely cause.

Yesterday, Stockton Council decided to prosecute Robinsons.

David Huntley of Gazette Live reports Janet Bell and Trevor Robinson, of Robinsons Butchers, are due to appear at Teesside Magistrates’ Court today charged with food safety and hygiene breaches.

A previous report by Public Health England’s outbreak control team stated the likely cause of the outbreak was cross-contamination from raw meat to ready–to-eat food at Robinsons’ Billingham branch and “to a lesser degree” at the Wingate branch.

The authority has now mounted a prosecution against Robinson, 53, and Bell, 55.

Bell and Robinson are accused of breaching food hygiene rules at the Billingham shop by selling cooked ham, pork, beef and ham and egg quiche that was “unfit for human consumption” due to contamination by “pathogenic microorganisms.”

The offences are alleged to have taken place between July 2 and 20 last year.

robinsons-butcherOf the 15 people affected in the E. coli outbreak, 10 needed hospital treatment of which seven went on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition affecting the kidneys.

All have since recovered.

One victim was Tia Donaldson who suffered kidney failure aged 11.

The youngster’s mum Rachael Donaldson, a volunteer from Billingham, told The Gazette in August last year that Tia was left in a critical condition after a series of strokes stemming from the poisoning.

Rachael said: “She’s had bleeds to her brain. On one occasion she couldn’t feel her left side.

“I was sat right next to her and she kept saying ‘please get my mum, you’re not my mum’.

“She was begging for me to be there.”

Bloody stools are sorta serious: UK mum’s anger after medics ‘ignore’ daughter’s symptoms of E. coli

Cheri Burns of The Daily Record reports a UK mum has told of her anger after her daughter’s symptoms of a potentially deadly strain of E. coli were “ignored” by medics.

350px-escherichia-coliOne-year-old Myla Smith has been diagnosed with E. coli 157 – the same virus bacteria that claimed the life of a child in Dunbartonshire and infected dozens of others during a recent outbreak.

A multi-agency incident management team (IMT) chaired by Health Protection Scotland are carrying out an investigation after 20 people fell ill after eating Dunsyre blue cheese.

Although Myla’s condition is now stable, parent Siobhan Mclelland, from Johnstone in Renfrewshire, said she cannot bare to think about what could have happened after claiming doctors repeatedly missed the signs.

The tot became unwell earlier this month, suffering from bouts of repeated vomiting and diarrhea.

And, when Siobhan, 20, spotted blood in her stools, she knew something was very wrong.

But, despite rushing Myla to the Accident and Emergency department at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital several times over a seven-day period, Siobhan insists her worries were not taken seriously.

She claimed: “Myla was sick as a dog for days, and when I saw the blood I knew something wasn’t right.

“I took her to hospital on five occasions and they examined her and took blood, but was told it was viral and felt fobbed off.”

Trusting her instincts, Siobhan said it was only after persistence that the problem was treated with more urgency, with samples being sent off for testing at a facility in Edinburgh.

And, just two days later, the parent was stunned to receive a phone call from doctors telling her that the E. coli bug had been detected in results.

Myla now has to return to her local hospital for blood tests and monitoring regularly.

Describing her disappointment at the care her family received, Siobhan told the Record: “I can’t believe what happened – things could’ve been so much worse.

“One doctor we saw didn’t even properly look at Myla, just said she was fine.”

An NHS spokeswoman said: “This patient has been appropriately managed as an outpatient with ongoing monitoring by our pediatric team.

“If her family has any issues they should contact the hospital and we would be happy to address any of their concerns.”

No cause IDed, but UK children told to get back to class after E. coli outbreak

There were 71 pupils absent at Carlogie Primary on Monday which was a fifth of the school roll of 346 with 46 being kept off as a precaution.

On Tuesday 57 were absent with 37 kept off as a precaution.

A spokesman for Angus Council said: “Members of the community are understandably concerned and have provided tremendous support in trying to minimise spread of infection and identify a possible source.

“The cases and contacts have now been identified and children should now be attending school or nursery unless they are symptomatic or have been formally excluded by the Health Protection Team.”

Part of Tayside Children’s Hospital at Ninewells in Dundee has been set aside for confirmed and suspected cases in the Angus E. coli O157 outbreak.

NHS Tayside confirmed the move as part of what health chiefs described as an “evolving situation” in which a young girl also remains seriously ill in a Glasgow hospital.

The Peter Pan playgroup at the centre of the Angus investigation remains closed.

UK cockroach-infested curry house shut down after insects found crawling in chef hats

And more about those UK chefs.

A cockroach-infested curry house in north-east London has been ordered to shut its doors after it was discovered crawling with insects, including in chef hats.

currySouth Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant Palii Maamala in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, was closed following fears it risked customers’ health.

Food safety inspectors uncovered an infestation of cockroaches and nymphs inside the “filthy” kitchen with droppings found on shelves containing open food and dinner plates.

Insects were also seen living in a box of paper hats worn by the chefs while the cooker was thick with grease in conditions described as “disgusting”.

Containers were encrusted with old food with the filth witnessed across the entire building including an upstairs function room where cockroaches were also found.

Waltham Forest Council issued an immediate hygiene order for the curry house to shut following an inspection on Monday, September 12 over a number of food safety breaches.

The order was received at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday September 14, confirming the closure.