No handwashing for staff: UK food company ordered to pay nearly £30,000

A Bradford food company has been ordered to pay nearly £30,000 for its persistent failure to comply with “integral” hygiene regulations, such as providing handwashing facilities for staff.

handwash_south_park(2)Ahmer Raja Foods Ltd, which trades as Rajas Pizza Bar on Leeds Road, was fined the bulk of the money, £20,000, for refusing to comply with a number of improvement notices issued by Bradford Council’s environmental health team.

Noone from the company attended the hearing at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court yesterday, but 21 breaches of food hygiene regulations were proven in their absence, and the firm was told to pay a total of £29,895 within 28 days.

Harjit Ryatt, prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, told the court that on five visits to the premises between January 24 and April 9 this year, officers found a lack of wash basins for staff, food handlers not wearing the correct protective clothing, and food kept in dirty or broken containers.

UK Aldershot takeaway ‘improving’ after zero hygiene rating dished out

A takeaway in Aldershot has been given a slap on the wrists for a series of food safety failings.

Hafeez in Station RoadHafeez in Station Road was issued two cautions by Rushmoor Borough Council on Thursday following an inspection.

The action came in relation to six food safety offences and a further health and safety offence

As a result, the takeaway has been given a food hygiene rating of zero – the lowest on the Food Standards Agency’s national rating scheme.

However, Hafeez has taken steps to improve the situation and will be working with the council in the coming months to ensure it meets appropriate standards.

Councillor Ken Muschamp, RBC cabinet member for safety and regulation, said: “I am fully supportive of the stance taken by the council’s food team to protect the health of residents.

“I would urge residents to use the scheme to check the hygiene status of food businesses in the borough.

“I only eat in food businesses that have a four or five rating. If a food business doesn’t display their hygiene rating sticker, I would ask why.”

£25,400 fine for Royal Court Hotel in UK food hygiene fine

A Coventry hotel has been fined £25,400 after pleading guilty to six food hygiene offences.

Royal Court on Tamworth RoaFood safety inspectors found the Royal Court on Tamworth Road, which is owned by Britannia Hotels, failed to wash up dirty room service dishes promptly and kept jugs of sour milk and dried-up sauce in its walk-in chiller.

The findings were made during a routine inspection in November 2013.

Britannia did not respond to a request for a comment.

Magistrates at Nuneaton Justice Centre heard the hotel had failed to maintain an adequate food safety management system.

Inspectors said there was a build-up of food debris, broken glass, crockery, and utensils on the floor beneath shelving and work surfaces in the dishwasher area.

The sink was dirty and a piece of tinfoil was being used as a plug.

Storerooms were dirty, cupboards were mouldy and inspectors found a large locked oil container in the yard was caked with grease, which “could attract rodents”, they said at the hearing on Tuesday.

Patricia Hetherton, from Coventry City Council’s regulatory committee, said: “The catalogue of food hygiene issues found in our routine inspection will absolutely horrify visitors to the hotel who should quite rightly expect they are being entertained in a clean and safe environment.”

UK mother eats roll of toilet paper every day and just ‘can’t quit’

A UK mother of five has opened up about her bizarre food fetish — eating a roll of toilet paper every day.

Jade Sylvester.toilet.paperJade Sylvester, from England, knocks back at least eight pieces of toilet tissue every time she goes into the loo and says she just “can’t quit” the roll, according to The Huffington Post.

The 25 year old said her taste for toilet tissue started when she was pregnant and suspects it may have been caused by a condition known as Pica, which brings on “non-traditional” cravings, The Huffington Post reported.

“I started craving toilet roll. I still don’t know why,” she said.

Speaking to the Liconshire Echo, Sylvester said she liked the “the feeling of the texture in my mouth, rather than the taste”.
“I like the dryness. My family tell me it isn’t very good for me — but I can’t help it,” Ms Sylvester said.

UK shop closed after dead mice found

A convenience store was served an immediate closure notice after environmental health inspectors discovered eight dead mice.

dead.mouseThe discovery at One Stop in Ribbleton Avenue, Ribbleton, Preston, happened during a routine food hygiene inspection. An environmental health officer found eight dead mice under aisles in the shop, a bag of crisps that had been gnawed at and mouse droppings.

The shop was served with a hygiene emergency prohibition notice following the discovery last Monday which closed the shop with immediate effect.

When officers returned on Tuesday they were satisfied that work to clean the shop has been carried out and the shop was allowed to reopen.

UK nursery still closed after three youngsters suffer from E. coli O55

A children’s center involved in an E coli investigation remains closed with no date set for its reopening.

e.coli.O55Blandford Children’s Centre in Black Lane was closed after three children who had visited it suffered from a rare strain of E coli.

A spokesperson for Dorset County Council confirmed that it was still closed and they had no information on when it might reopen.

The E coli outbreak has affected 11 people who are either all resident in Dorset or had visited the area since July. Blandford Children’s Centre was closed for three days in October after a child who attended it was diagnosed with the 055 E coli strain.

No evidence of a direct link between the nursery and the cases has been found but Dorset County Council opted to close the center voluntarily while they waited for the results of tests on staff and children.

Lawyers said the 10 people who had been infected since July had a right to expect answers from Public Health England (PHE).

Zero-rated Turkish Delight sold moldy food in UK; another zero says ‘grade is very harsh’

A food stall at a busy shopping centre in Bransholme was shut down after inspectors found moldy, out-of-date food being sold.

corganzeroTurkish Delight, based in North Point Shopping Centre, received a food hygiene rating of zero out of five after a routine inspection.

Environmental health officers from Hull City Council found:

Moldy and out-of-date food being sold.

The hand wash basin was blocked and could not be used.

Food stored at high temperatures.

Dirty floors, greasy walls and filthy fridges.

Inspectors also failed to find a documented food safety management system.

The pair were each fined £690 at Hull Magistrates’ Court for food safety breaches.

Meanwhile, the owner of an award-winning Indian restaurant that scored zero in a hygiene inspection says he is frustrated at the reason given for the bad rating.

The Mahmaan, in Smalley Drive, Oakwood, received the lowest score after being visited by a food safety inspector on September 16.

The rating was revealed by Derby City Council this afternoon, although the reasons for it have not been made public.

Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, the restaurant’s owner Abdul Matin said the “only” reason for the zero rating was the late delivery of poultry products – and vowed to score five out of five when the inspector returns in a few weeks.

He explained: “We had a poultry order come in late, which was unacceptable to the inspector.

“She said we shouldn’t have poultry arriving as food is being cooked or prepared as it could lead to a contamination.

“That was the only reason we were marked down. We agreed that if the same thing was to happen again, we would send the poultry back and ask for a next day delivery.”

The Mahmaan is a popular restaurant and was crowned East Midlands Caterers of the Year at the 2013 Bangladesh Caterers’ Association Awards in London.

It was awarded the Derbyshire region Customer Excellence trophy in 2008, and, in 2012, it was nominated for the Derby Telegraph’s Indian Restaurant of the Year award.

UK supermarkets named and shamed over Campylobacter on chicken contamination

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the cumulative results from the first two quarters of its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens.

FunkyChickenHiIndividual results by major retailer have also been published.

Retailers aren’t happy.

One of the companies that has helped develop a way to flash freeze the surface of birds to kill campylobacter bacteria after slaughter, Bernard Matthews, said that retailers had been resistant to the extra cost, which is about 4-5p per bird.

However, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Asda and Sainsbury’s all told the Guardian they were supporting the trials of technology which rapidly chills or steams the surface of a chicken to significantly reduce levels of campylobacter.

Tesco said it would be helping to fund a full-scale trial of rapid chill technology with one of its suppliers from January to test feasibility on a commercial scale.

Andrew Large, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, which represents the largest producers and processors, said the industry was focusing on about 10 measures that looked promising, but he warned that there was “no silver bullet” to end campylobacter contamination.

The results to date show:

18% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter above the highest level of contamination

70% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter

6% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter with only one sample at the highest level of contamination (>1,000 cfu/g)

chicken* Above 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

In total, 1,995 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens have now been tested, with packaging also tested for most of these samples. Data show variations between retailers but none are meeting the end-of-production target for reducing campylobacter.

This 12-month survey, running from February 2014 to February 2015, will test 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers.

Campylobacter is killed by thorough cooking; however it is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year. Poultry is the source of the majority of these cases.

But-just-cook-it doesn’t cut it and fails to account for cross-contamination.

In response, a number of retailers have introduced ‘roast in the bag’ chickens which help limit cross-contamination by minimizing the handling of the raw chicken in the home.

The FSA advises that the data for individual retailers have to be interpreted carefully. Confidence intervals are given for each retailer and the ‘others’ category. These show the likely range of the results allowing for the number of samples taken.

At this half-way stage in the survey the results show, taking the confidence intervals into account, that Tesco is the only one of the main retailers which has a lower incidence of chicken contaminated with campylobacter at the highest level (>1,000 cfu/g), compared to the industry average. Asda is the only main retailer which has a higher incidence of chicken that is contaminated by campylobacter at the highest level, compared to the industry average. However, the results suggest that none of the retailers is achieving the joint industry end-of-production target for reducing campylobacter.

chicken.thermAnd what FSA chicken advice would be complete without a recommendation to  “make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.”

This is ridiculous advice from a supposedly science-based agency: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Meanwhile, The Guardian revealed this week that Tim Smith, the former boss of the FSA who left the regulator to become a director of Tesco, is said to have contacted a senior official in the Department of Health in June to warn that the FSA’s plans could provoke a major food scare, in an apparent breach of the terms approved by David Cameron for his move to industry.

And Tim Lang, a professor of food policy at London’s City University, told The Guardian the results are schocking and that “public should refuse to buy poultry until this is sorted out. This is a public health scandal easily on a par to those of the 1980s and 1990s and reminds me of the outrage over food adulteration and contamination in the mid 19th century. Have we really sunk back to that level?”

Dear British public, be outraged, act, withhold your money until you can have confidence in what you consume. This may not be orthodox public health strategy but it is definitely what history shows works when standards are as dire as these results show them to be.

UK E coli victims: Why didn’t Public Health England tell people about outbreak months ago?

Victims of the E coli outbreak have criticised Public Health England for not doing more to publicise the risks of the bug.

A Bournemouth woman who contracted the disease, two mothers whose children were desperately ill and a grandfather of a girl currently seriously ill in hospital have all said PHE was wrong not to tell people about the outbreak.

e.coli.O55A total of 11 people – all Dorset residents or people who have visited the county – have contracted E coli since July, with the latest case being last week.

PHE stressed it had thoroughly investigated each and every case but had not been able to find any common source between the cases in July and August.

It said it had not told any of the victims their cases were closed but that activity would have slowed because of the lack of any common factor between cases.

But victims and relatives are still unhappy with the way the PHE has handled the issue.

The grandfather of a three-year-old Blandford girl, currently battling E coli in Southampton General Hospital, said: “Why does it need a newspaper to get involved for PHE to do something?

“They could have let people know about the symptoms and what to look out for weeks or months ago.”

He said his granddaughter had been in theatre for an operation on Wednesday and was now back on dialysis. “We are just keeping everything crossed at the moment. It’s so heartbreaking to walk in and see her hooked up to all these machines.”

Gabrielle Archer, whose son Isaac Mortlock was among the first victims of the current outbreak, said: “I’m devastated to hear that these other children are now suffering and going through the daily blood tests and dialysis that Isaac had to go through.

“I feel that perhaps had Public Health England taken this case a bit more seriously that might not have happened. Had they put it out there and made people aware of the risks and symptoms, perhaps they might be okay.

A spokesperson for PHE said they had been proactive but said this did not necessarily mean engaging with the media.

She said there were always cases of E coli and they were constantly promoting good hygiene as a way of safeguarding against it.

But if PHE doesn’t know what the source is, how can they say they’re constantly promoting good hygiene as a way of safeguarding against it?

A better approach would be: we don’t know, this is what we’re doing to find out more, and you’ll hear it from PHE first.

U.K. nursery closed following E. coli O55 outbreak

500065432206023-1BBC reports that the Blandford Children’s Centre Nursery in Dorset (U.K.) was closed as health officials investigate a cluster of rare E. coli illnesses.

Vanessa Glenn, head of family support at Dorset County Council, which runs the nursery in Black Lane, said a child there was diagnosed with E. coli infection in mid-October.

She said it was closed for three days while deep-cleaning work was carried out.

Another child from the nursery was infected on Monday and it is currently closed pending the results of staff blood tests and child stool samples, she added.

She said there had also been another E. coli case involving a child from Blandford who had attended Shaftesbury Children’s Centre, although this is not part of the “cluster”.

Ms Glenn said: “While there is no indication of a direct link between the nursery and recent cases, we are working closely with Public Health England and local authority environmental health officers to help tackle the problem.”

She added parents had been “kept fully informed” and were being advised of the nursery closure.

“As some cases have occurred in people associated with a children’s nursery, letters have been sent to parents whose children attend the nursery and staff, informing them about E. coli O55 and the ongoing investigation,” PHE said.

A couple of years ago I collaborated with Clemson’s Angie Fraser on a set of USDA NIFA funded food safety and infection factsheets for childcare facilities including using exclusion of ill staff and children as an outbreak control measure. The sheets can be downloaded here and here.