Artisan? UK cheesemaker banned from ever making cheese again after health inspectors found deadly salmonella, E. coli and listeria in her mozzarella

An artisan cheesemaker has been banned from ever making cheese again after salmonella, E.coli and listeria was found in her mozzarella.

frances.woodHealth inspectors discovered Frances Wood’s dairy in West Cranmore, Somerset, in a filthy state with ‘high-risk’ moldy cheese laid on dirty racks with taps rusting away.

A judge branded the 70-year-old’s cheese-making operation ‘shoddy’ and ‘amateurish’ after hearing that her products contained salmonella, E.coli and the listeria bug – which kills one-third of people infected.

Wood would often travel to London’s Camden Market to sell her artisan mozzarella which she also sold to local pizza restaurants.

She ran Alham Wood Cheeses at Higher Alham Farm, where she kept buffalo and made mozzarella cheese from their milk.

The buffalo have been on the farm since 1997, with a 200-strong herd kept there.

Mendip District Council inspected her dairy several times and saw no change in the disgusting conditions.

And when they viewed her stall at Camden Market, they found the same unhygienic products.

The local authority said they tried to work with Wood to improve her cheese-making, but took legal action when it became clear she had not made any improvements to hygiene conditions at her dairy.

She was served with formal notices at the end of November 2014 and was then prosecuted for two offences under food safety and hygiene regulations.

Alham_Farm_cheeses_2Wood pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined a total of £787 and made to pay £6,000 in prosecution costs.

But a district judge also took the rare step of imposing a Hygiene Prohibition Notice, which bans Wood from ‘participating in the management of any cheese production or processing business in the future’.

He called Wood’s business ‘a shoddy operation’ which was ‘rather amateurish’.

Increased action required to protect those with food allergies

Our daughter has been diagnosed with a moderate shellfish allergy, which is a shame with all the great shellfish in and around Brisbane, but more importantly it means we carry an epi pen and know how to use it.

food-allergies-imageIt’s made me more empathetic to those with severe allergies.

An independent review of the UK’s food system has concluded more action needs to be taken in order to better protect people with food allergies. That’s according to a report from a leading UK team of food safety experts, including Professor Chris Elliott from Queen’s University Belfast, a co-author of a paper published in The Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Analyst, outlining a strategy to close the gaps in current processes for detecting and measuring allergens – substances in foods that can trigger an allergic reaction. The publication comes during the UK’s Allergy Awareness Week (25th April – 1 May).

Food allergy is a rapidly growing problem in the developed world, affecting up to 10 per cent of children and 2-3 per cent of adults. Allergic reactions can range from a mild runny nose, skin irritation or stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.

Food allergies have significant impact on quality of life and usually require lifelong avoidance of the offending foods. There are also burdens on health care, the food industry and regulators.

Professor Elliott and Professor Duncan Burns, Emeritus Professor at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, are among a team of experts led by Michael Walker from the Government Chemist Programme at LGC, which has outlined a ‘grand vision’ to address the key challenges in allergen measurement and analysis. They make a series of recommendations primarily addressed to the European Commission’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, DG Santé, aimed at securing a food chain which is reliable, resistant to fraud and ultimately safe for consumers.

Professor Elliott is a world-renowned expert on food fraud and traceability and led the independent review of the UK’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal. He said: “The food supply chain is highly vulnerable to fraud involving food allergens, risking consumer health and reputational damage to the food industry. Cross-contamination during production, processing and transport is also a problem. While efforts have been made to improve food labelling and introduce the concept of threshold quantities for allergens, these depend on being able to accurately detect and quantify allergens in the first instance. Gaps in the current system mean that it is difficult to achieve this.

“This paper sets out a strategy to address those gaps and calls on the EC to take action in three particular areas. Firstly, the use of bioinformatics studies for modelling how best to predict what allergens present in foods, and specifically what quantities of these allergens, will adversely affect the health of someone with food allergies. Secondly, the development of reference methods which will provide a ‘gold standard’ for the detection and measurement of allergens in food. And thirdly, the production of reference materials which can support threshold decisions -samples of foods with known, controlled amounts of allergens present, to allow for checks on the accuracy of allergen testing methods.”

Significant international effort and an inter-disciplinary approach will be required to achieve these aims and protect those at risk of food allergies. Lead author of the report, Michael Walker from LCG said: “If we fail to realise the promise of future risk management of food allergens through lack of the ability to measure food allergens properly, the analytical community will have failed a significant societal challenge. Our recommendations are complex with associated resource demand but rarely has such an exciting interdisciplinary scientific endeavour arisen as a solution to a key socially relevant problem.”

The open access paper in Analyst is available at

Eating out: Hygiene tops Brits’ list

Surveys still suck, especially since rating are displayed on a voluntary basis in England, but this one is fun in that it concludes UK consumers are united in not tolerating poor food hygiene ratings and simply won’t visit places that have had food safety issues, no matter what type of restaurant they are. 61% won’t eat at a restaurant, takeaway, coffee shop or pub that has a low Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food Hygiene Rating while three quarters (75%) said they wouldn’t risk dining at a restaurant that had been implicated in a food hygiene incident, even if recommended by someone that they trust.

eatmeThese are the headline findings of UK consumer research carried out by, which also found that diners would rather put up with poor service from rude and unhelpful staff than eat at dirty restaurants. 66% of respondents rated unclean or dirty premises as the first or second reason for not returning to a restaurant. Just 16% cited slow or poor service and 32% said rude or unhelpful staff would stop them coming back to a restaurant.

The impact of being implicated in a food hygiene incident is catastrophic for the survival of any restaurant business. Of the 75% of consumers that wouldn’t risk a visit, 43% said they’d never dine there, no matter what, while 32% would only return if it had closed down and reopened under new ownership. A further 22% said they’d only return if the food hygiene rating improved dramatically – meaning that owners would need deep pockets and the ability to invest heavily over a long period of time to meet hygiene standards, rebuild trust and attract diners back.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Michelin starred restaurant or a local takeaway – consumers will not tolerate poor food hygiene and will vote with their feet if a restaurant has been implicated in a food hygiene incident,” said Dee Roche, Marketing Director, “This demonstrates the enormous impact that poor food safety has on business survival – how could you cope with 61% of your customers boycotting your restaurant? These findings are a wakeup call to those restaurants that think that food safety is not a customer priority – diners rate hygiene as the number one reason, above service or rude staff when it comes to choosing whether to return to a restaurant.”

mr.creosote.monty.python.vomitThe research found that consumers had the highest expectations of fine dining restaurants, with 69% saying they would not visit any that had a low food hygiene rating. This was followed by takeaways (including Chinese, Indian or kebab sellers), with 64% of people avoiding any with low food hygiene ratings. In contrast they were slightly better disposed to cafés and coffee shops (55%), possibly due to the more limited range of food being sold.

“Food hygiene ratings matter to consumers, and are an increasingly important part of choosing where they eat,” said David Davies, Managing Director,

Cats eating dead deer behind UK market stall

Officers investigating concerns about the state of a market stall found cats eating a dead deer when they went to inspect the premises.

market.stallHusband and wife, Charles, 78 and Margery Todd, 77, who sold food at markets across the East Riding as well as Leeds, Malton and York, have been banned from running any food business by magistrates, who described the images as “harrowing”.

The Todds, who ran Rosedale Farm Products, Bewholme, Hornsea, will also have to pay almost £15,000 after admitting a string of food safety and hygiene offences.

Beverley Magistrates were told the business had been operating for 48 years and supplied gamebirds, chicken and turkey to the private and commercial sector as well to the public via market stalls.

There were no hand washing facilities or provision for cleaning or washing of preparation tables or equipment.

As the meat had not been stored correctly, some was so decomposed officers were unable to identify what animal it was.

Magistrates were told how the Todds agreed to a voluntary closure order but continued to operate the business.

Mr Todd apologised to customers today saying there was “no defence” from the pictures and saying standards had slipped following two motor accidents which had affected his mobility and led to his being registered disabled.

He said: “I am not going to be bloodyminded. It was a mess. It was a gradual deterioration proportionate to the deterioration of my physical ability.”

Food fraud: Skimping Halal butchers in UK slapped with £15,000 fine for lacing lamb mince with cheap beef

A skimping Halal butchers has been slapped with a £15,000 fine after being caught selling ‘lamb’ mince laced with cheap beef.

halal.jpg-pwrt3Master Halal Meat butchers in Ayres Road, Old Trafford, was found guilty of two counts of food fraud at Trafford Magistrates Court April 1.

The discovery was made after Trafford Council’s Environmental Health Officers sampled produce from a number of food outlets across the borough in the wake of the UK horse meat scandal in 2015.

During the inspections, a sample lamb pattie taken from a bakery was found to contain just 50 per cent lamb. The owners insisted they were not responsible and pointed to their supplier, Master Halal Meat.

Two samples of ‘lamb’ mince were taken directly from the supplier in March 2015 and were found to contain 50 per cent beef and 30 per cent beef respectively.

When interviewed by officers, director of Master Halal Meat, Abdul Fadel, blamed the shop manager and said he had recently been sacked.

The officers returned to the shop two months later and took a further sample of ‘lamb’ mince.

The sample was again found to contain 50 per cent beef, leaving officers no choice but to prosecute Fadel.

Disgusting conditions at UK curry house with pools of blood and cobwebs leads to £33,000 fine

A takeaway boss has been forced to pay out more than £33,000 after health inspectors found pools of blood in a freezer and cobwebs on light fittings at his business.

Maya takeaway in PolesworthSalik Mohammed Miah, 42, the owner of Maya takeaway in Polesworth, was handed one of the largest fines in the history of North Warwickshire Borough Council after a catalogue of hygiene horrors were exposed during an inspection.

Uncovered boxes of prawns, chicken and rice were also discovered along with containers of curry sauce stored on the floor and a dirty sink containing disgusting cloths and sponges.

The inspectors also found the fridge and freezer were running at dangerously high temperatures and there were no food safety procedures and no food labelling – despite previous council advice having been provided, the Coventry Telegraph reported.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: UK luxury Penarth hotel and restaurant receives ‘one’ food hygiene rating

A luxury hotel and restaurant in Penarth has been given a score of just one in its latest food hygiene rating.

mr.creosote.monty.python.vomitFollowing an inspection carried out by the local food safety officer, Holm House Hotel, located on Marine Parade, ranked among six others in the town to score a one.

The report of its December 2015 inspection said “major improvement” is needed in aspects of its food hygiene standards.

Six other establishments were given a rating of one including Penarth Labour Club of Glebe Street, Cylch Meithrin Bethel of Plassey Street, Lucky House of Tennyson Road, One Stop of Cornerswell Road, M&M Kebab and Pizza of Glebe Street and the day centre on Castle Avenue.

Jan Morgan from Cylch Meithrin Bethel said the rating was not reflective of food hygeine standards but more to do with filling in the correct paper work.

She said that on the day of the inspection, the children were painting and that this was stored in the kitchen but that there were no concerns over hygiene practices.

Andrew Hooper from Penarth Labour Club said that no food is served on site and that the only issue was one of documentation.

No one from Lucky House was available for comment.

Temperature still matters: Spike in C. perfringens linked to UK aged homes

An anecdotal increase in C. perfringens outbreaks was observed in the North East of England during 2012–2014. We describe findings of investigations in order to further understanding of the epidemiology of these outbreaks and inform control measures.

clostridiumperfringens_c200pxAll culture-positive (>105 c.f.u./g) outbreaks reported to the North East Health Protection Team from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2014 were included. Epidemiological (attack rate, symptom profile and positive associations with a suspected vehicle of infection), environmental (deficiencies in food preparation or hygiene practices and suspected vehicle of infection) and microbiological investigations are described. Forty-six outbreaks were included (83% reported from care homes). Enterotoxin (cpe) gene-bearer C. perfringens were detected by PCR in 20/46 (43%) and enterotoxin (by ELISA) and/or enterotoxigenic faecal/food isolates with indistinguishable molecular profiles in 12/46 (26%) outbreaks. Concerns about temperature control of foods were documented in 20/46 (43%) outbreaks. A suspected vehicle of infection was documented in 21/46 (46%) of outbreaks (meat-containing vehicle in 20/21). In 15/21 (71%) identification of the suspected vehicle was based on descriptive evidence alone, in 5/21 (24%) with supporting evidence from an epidemiological study and in 2/21 (10%) with supporting microbiological evidence.

C. perfringens-associated illness is preventable and although identification of foodborne outbreaks is challenging, a risk mitigation approach should be taken, particularly in vulnerable populations such as care homes for the elderly.

An epidemiological review of gastrointestinal outbreaks associated with Clostridium perfringens, North East of England, 2012–2014

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 07 / May 2016, pp 1386-1393

Edmunds Fine Dining fined £5,300 for mice infestation

The company behind Edmunds Fine Dining has been fined £5,300 after a mouse infestation was discovered by health inspectors at its Brindleyplace premises.

Edmunds Fine DiningParent firm Casamou Ltd admitted nine breaches of food safety regulations at Birmingham magistrates.

Nicola Lea, prosecuting for the city council, said the restaurant now has a five-star hygiene rating.

But it was served with an emergency prohibition notice in January 2015 which had forced it to close for one day.

Ms Lea said environmental health officers had visited the restaurant on January 20 last year after receiving a complaint.

Officers found mouse droppings throughout the premises, a lack of effective cleaning and no evidence of a food safety management plan.

They also discovered out of date milk and cream in the fridges.

She added: “Officers served the notice on January 20 and returned to carry out a follow-up inspection on January 21 and the premises was allowed to reopen.

“There was a subsequent inspection in March 2015 and they now have a five-star rating.”

She added that a food safety management plan was drawn up after the visits and said there had been a high level of co-operation, including the steps to resolve the problems.

In mitigation for Casamou Ltd, lawyer Mr Smith described the incident as “very unfortunate” and said Edmunds had received a clean bill of health from a pest control company on the very same day of the visit.

He also said the complaint had been made anonymously and that the venue had been closed in the two days before the visit.

He said in those two days no cooking had taken place and any out of date food would have been checked and disposed of.

He added: “The visit took place on a Tuesday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday and a member of staff should have attended work to carry out cleaning duties.

“There was a system in place, but the system failed because the member of staff did not attend work. The company co-operated fully with the local authority and subsequently received a five-star rating, which is still in place.”


26 Brits win huge payout after contracting E. coli on holiday in Egypt

A young mum dad and daughter, who nearly died after contracting E. coli on holiday in Egypt in 2012, are among holidaymakers who have won a massive pay out from Thomas Cook.

sindbad-aqua-park-hotelRoxanne Barraclough was told by doctors that she was lucky to be alive after being admitted to a hospital with excruciating kidney pain following a family break.

Medics confirmed she had contracted deadly E. coli and, if left untreated, her kidneys could have ruptured.

Roxanne, 26, was one of 26 ailing tourists who suffered life-threatening gastric symptoms, after their stays at the Sindbad Aqua Park Hotel, in Hurghada.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell has now secured the group damages in excess of £100,000 from the tour operator to cover the holidaymakers’ pain and suffering and related losses.

Credit controller Roxanne, of Blackpool, Lancs, had noticed chicken sometimes served to guests at the four-star resort was undercooked and stopped eating it.

Just three days into their trip in July 2012, Roxanne, her partner Daniel, 24 and their seven-year-old-daughter Jessica fell ill.

Daniel’s symptoms continued two weeks after the young family returned home, with Jessica suffering for five weeks after the holiday.

sindbad_aqua_park_3On their return Roxanne’s illness became so bad she went for emergency treatment at an A&E department, where she tested positive for E. coli and was quickly transferred to an infection control unit where she spent a week receiving treatment.

Doctors later told her that had she not received urgent medical care both kidneys could have ruptured.

A Thomas Cook spokeswoman apologised and said health and safety was treated with “the utmost importance”.

She added: “We know how important holidays are to our customers and how upsetting it can be when they fall unwell while overseas. We have been liaising closely with the appointed solicitor representing Ms Barraclough, as well as other customers who stayed at the hotel in 2012, and are pleased that we have reached an agreement to resolve this matter amicably with them.”