Hepatitis A outbreak strikes in Welsh schools

Parents are being advised not to send their child to school for seven days if Hepatitis A is suspected following a number of cases in Caerphilly, South Wales

hep.aParents are being warned over an outbreak of hepatitis across schools in the UK.

Public Health Wales have confirmed that two more cases – including one at a secondary school – have been diagnosed in Caerphilly.

The total number of cases of hepatitis A in the area is now 11.

Heather Lewis, a consultant in health protection, warned there may be more cases to come, reports Wales Online.

Hepatitis A vaccination is not routinely offered on the NHS, as the infection is rare in the UK, with 13 reported cases in Wales in 2012.

It is strongly advised that anyone travelling to a country where the infection is more common should receive the vaccination.

Scientists find ancient Welsh beer recipe that could treat food poisoning

While breweries in China may date back 5,000 years, a 16th century Welsh drink has been found to contain antibacterial properties that could help fight food poisoning.

stream_imgScientists at Cardiff University hope to create a “super mead” using a mixture of herbs that can tackle salmonella.

“We’re actually running out of antibiotics now, so it’s imperative that we identify new products that are active against these bacteria, especially the likes of salmonella and e-coli which are causing problems all over the country and indeed the world…”

– Dr James Blaxland, Cardiff University

The scientists have been trying to work out how to make a so-called ‘super honey’.

They’ve found with a mix of herbs that together can fight bacteria like salmonella.

“Back in the sixteenth century, there was a Welsh drink called metheglin. Metheglin translates into ‘healing liquor’.

Basically, it’s mead… alcoholic mead that we drink… combined with medicinal herbs.

What we are trying to do is identify those medicinal herbs that we could add to the mead to make a drink that was antibacterial.”

– Prof Les Baillie, Cardiff University

They hope combining Welsh history with science being done in Wales could lead to new and effective drugs.

Restaurant was never named but should be: 33 sickened by Campylobacter in Cardiff, 2015

Knowing when to go public in an outbreak situation is challenging. But it’s better than silence.The most important conclusions from this Public Health Wales report are:

Buffet_CounterOn the 27th May 2015 the Shared Regulatory Services Communicable Disease Team (Cardiff)  identified two cases of Campylobacter (one in Cardiff and the other in the Vale of Glamorgan) that were linked to the same premises (Premises A) in Cardiff.

This triggered an immediate investigation and an Outbreak Control Team was subsequently convened, declaring a formal outbreak on 4th June 2015.

In total there were 33 cases meeting the case definition of which 11 were microbiologically confirmed as Campylobacter jejuni. No cases were hospitalised. 24 cases ate at Premises A on 17th May. Of the remaining cases, seven ate on 16th May and one on 18th May. The final case ate on 7th June.

Repeated environmental visits were undertaken and issues that could potentially lead to cross contamination were identified. Premises A voluntarily closed on 4th June to address these issues and reopened on 6th June.

Of the 33 cases, 31 participated in a case control study.  These all ate between the 16th and 18th May.  The study revealed that 100% (31) of included cases had eaten from the salad bar compared to 84.9% (45/53) controls (p=0.024). In addition, 30 of 31 cases (96.8%) had eaten pasta salad from the salad bar, compared with 22/50 controls  (44%) (odds ratio 38; 95% CI 5.3–1611). Adjustment for other exposures using logistic regression did not materially change the association with eating pasta salad. A similar but independent association with eating noodles from the salad bar was also identified but few of the cases (6/31) had consumed noodles.

Environmental investigation found areas of non compliance with statutory food hygiene regulations and confirmed that several poor food hygiene practices had been identified that potentially could result in pasta salad cross-contamination within the kitchen area.

It was therefore concluded that eating pasta salad from the salad bar between 16th and 18th May 2015 was significantly associated with acquiring Campylobacter infection in this outbreak, and that for the small number of individuals who ate noodles this may have been independently associated with acquiring Campylobacter infection. The identification of non-meat items (often salad) in Campylobacter outbreaks is a reoccurring theme.

IMG_7739Ensuring good food hygiene is always the sole responsibility of the Food Business Operator. Nevertheless, it is important to note that this outbreak identified several issues which have implications more widely.

These included:

  • Issues with the interpretation and implementation by the food business of the Food Standards Agency E. coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance (revised December 2014).
  • Issues relating to the Primary Authority’s response in outbreak situations (relevant to Food Business Operators with multiple outlets).

The specific points of concern are explained in the discussion section of this report. 

Related to these issues, investigations highlighted three matters which may have implications for other high throughput food businesses.  These were:

  • Not using physical separation as the primary control measure to prevent cross-contamination.
  • An over reliance on two-stage cleaning as a control measure which may fail during busy periods.
  • The need to design out (as much as possible) any potential for human error resulting in cross-contamination.

Following this outbreak, improvements with respect to these three matters have been implemented in Premises A and all other similar premises nationally that are under the same ownership.

The outbreak was declared over on 25th August 2015.


  1. There were 33 cases of Campylobacter associated with this outbreak. Eleven were microbiologically confirmed.
  2. This had the features of a point source outbreak. All but one case ate at Premises A on the weekend 16-18th May. The final confirmed case ate at the premises on 7th June.
  3. Epidemiological and environmental investigation identified cross-contamination of the pasta salad as the most likely source of the outbreak for the cases on 16-18th May. No source was identified for the case on 7th June.
  4. Environmental investigation found areas of non compliance with statutory Food Hygiene Regulations and confirmed that several poor food hygiene practices had been identified that potentially could result in pasta salad cross-contamination within the kitchen area.
  5. The interpretation and application of the December 2014 revised version of the Food Standards Agency E. coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance by the Food Business Operator of Premises A resulted in the business not using physical separation as the primary control measure to prevent cross-contamination. This and over reliance on two-stage cleaning as a control measure was potentially not effective in preventing cross-contamination. This guidance was then used by the Food Business Operator to defend such arrangements and structural layouts as being in line with the recommendation of this guidance.
  6. Implementation of some control measures in this outbreak were delayed by involvement of the Primary Authority.
  7. Being unable to interview food handlers involved in this outbreak at an early stage in a structured format away from Premises A hampered outbreak investigation and control.
  8. Issuing a proactive press release without naming the premises resulted in this decision becoming the media focus rather than the outbreak.


  1. The Food Standards Agency E. coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance (revised December 2014) should be reviewed in light of the issues identified in this outbreak.
  2. The Food Standards Agency should work with the Better Regulation Delivery Office to develop advice for Primary Authorities on providing timely and effective responses to outbreak investigations.
  3. Proactive follow-up for example via telephone of all confirmed Campylobacter cases in Wales should be routine practice by all Local Authorities. This supports early detection of outbreaks, the application of control measures to be timely and prompt hygiene advice to be given to cases.
  4. Local Authorities should ensure that they retain sufficient Environmental Health staff with Food Safety and Communicable Disease skills to be able to proactively follow up communicable disease cases and investigate suspected outbreaks.
  5. Although direct poultry contact or consumption is known to be the most common source for Campylobacter infection in humans, the Food Standards Agency Campylobacter Reduction Strategy should note for consideration that outbreaks in Wales have also been linked to non meat products such as salads. This could of course in some cases represent cross contamination but they may wish to consider looking at the body of evidence from such outbreaks across the United Kingdom to inform the Strategy going forward.
  6. The use of ‘Requests for Co-operation’ under health protection legislation should be considered early in outbreak investigations in order to effectively interview food handlers.
  7. In future outbreaks proactive media engagement without naming the premises should be avoided.


It’s not a virus or bacterium, it’s a parasite: 7 positive, 16 sick with crypto after visit to Welsh petting farm

A Monmouthshire farm has cancelled a series of open day visits for primary school children following the outbreak of a diarrhea-causing virus.

powell.namePublic Health Wales along with Torfaen and Monmouthshire councils are continuing to investigate an outbreak of cryptosporidium associated with Coleg Gwent’s farm in Usk.

Seven people have tested positive for cryptosporidium and 16 others are suspected of having the bug after regular attendance at the farm or contact with those who have.

Heather Lewis, consultant in health protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are continuing to work with Coleg Gwent, who have written to all students who may have been on the farm in March.

“As a precaution, Coleg Gwent have also cancelled a series of open days which were due to take place with invited primary schools from Tuesday, April 12 to Friday, April 15.”

A spokesman from Public Health Wales said: “Good hand washing after coming into contact with farm animals, their bedding or dirty equipment including clothing is of the utmost importance in preventing infection with cryptosporidium.

“There is no reason for anyone to avoid visiting petting farms as long as they ensure that anyone who has touched animals, thoroughly washes their hands with hot water and soap immediately afterwards and before eating, as hand sanitisers or alcoholic gels should not be solely relied upon.”

Handwashing is never enough.

Welsh farm investigated after visitors test positive for crypto

A Monmouthshire farm is being investigated after a number of visitors tested positive for a microscopic parasite that causes a diarrheal disease.

Coleg Gwent’s farm in UskPublic Health Wales, Torfaen County Borough Council and Monmouthshire County Council are investigating an outbreak of cryptosporidium at Coleg Gwent’s farm in Usk.

Three people have tested positive for cryptosporidium and eight others are under investigation after a regular attendance at the farm.

“All the confirmed cases had direct contact with the lambs at the college farm. As part of our investigations, we are checking on all those whom we believe had contact with these animals and Coleg Gwent is co­operating fully with our investigations.


Food giants’ low food hygiene ratings in Wales

KFC in Pontypool was given a zero score by the Food Standards Agency, the worst rating meaning urgent action is needed.

KFC in PontypoolCo-operative stores in Pontardawe, Porth, and Birchgrove, Cardiff scored one, along with Subway in Queen Street, Cardiff and Harvester in Cardiff Bay.

Costa in Brecon, Tesco cafe in Maesteg and Asda in Aberdare had a two rating.

That means improvement is necessary.

There are more than 26,000 businesses in Wales which have ratings, of which more than 1,400 had a two rating or below. The highest score is five.

Russel Smith, chief operating officer, KFC UK, said: “I was extremely disappointed by the rating this restaurant received, which is completely unacceptable.

“We took immediate action to return the restaurant to the standards we demand and are awaiting a re-inspection which we are sure will reflect this.”

Going public: Seven people struck by campy in UK but public health body refuses to name restaurant it closed down

Wales Online reports that a public health body says it will not name a Cardiff restaurant at the centre of a food poisoning outbreak.

wales.food.rating.19Public Health Wales says it is “satisfied” that the situation – which led to seven people being confirmed with the campylobacter infection – has been dealt with and there is “no risk to public health.”

The victims ate at the restaurant during the weekend of May 16, and two people are also suspected to have the infection.

At the end of last week, Public Health Wales, the Regulatory Service for Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend councils, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the Food Standards Agency said they were working together to investigate an outbreak of campylobacter with links to the restaurant.

The restaurant is not being named despite the fact that new laws require all premises dealing with food to openly display their food hygiene ratings.

Facebook user Claire Drewen said: “That is wrong! The public have a right to know. Public Health Wales should release the name. Maybe people would like to avoid the restaurant when it reopens.”

But Greg Cannon said: “Why can’t we have an intelligent debate rather than scaremongering? There is probably a very good legal as well as commercial argument for not naming; but in the age of social media all it takes is one Facebook or Twitter post and the name is known. PHW might avoid the legal case and the public still get the information they think they need.”


9 sick with campy: Wales (mystery) restaurant closed after outbreak

A Cardiff restaurant has been closed after an outbreak of food poisoning.

mystery-restaurantSeven people with confirmed campylobacter infection and two people with suspected infection ate at the restaurant during the weekend of May 16, Public Health Wales (PHW) confirmed.

C. perfringens: UK Christmas Day diner died and dozens seriously ill after Xmas turkey lunch at pub ‘where staff paid lip service to safety procedures’

A Christmas Day diner died and dozens of others became seriously ill after eating their turkey lunch at a pub where staff paid ‘lip service’ to safety procedures, a court heard today.

grinch.beastMother-of-one Della Callagher, 46, died after paying £39.95 for the four-course lunch at the Railway Hotel, Hornchurch, Essex, on Christmas Day 2012.

She was among 33 people who fell ill following the alleged outbreak of food poisoning, later attributed to a bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens.

The restaurant’s former owner Ann McSweeney, 40, and ex-chef Mehmet Kaya, 37, deny serving food that was unfit for human consumption.

The pub’s parent company, Mitchell and Butlers PLC, based in Birmingham, also deny the charge at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

McSweeney, of Hornchurch, and Kaya, of Purfleet, Essex, also deny perverting the course of justice by falsifying records in a ‘daily kitchen due diligence log’ relating to the cooking and cooling of turkey meat.

The pair are accused of failing to properly monitor the temperature of the turkey as it cooked.

Following the incident, they allegedly falsified their food safety records to hand to health and safety inspectors.

McSweeney further denies obstructing an officer in the course of their duty by handing the falsified documents to food safety inspectors.

Andrew Campbell-Tiech, prosecuting, told the court: ‘Mehmet Kaya grossly, grossly mismanaged the preparation of the Christmas turkey.

‘By that act he caused his employer, the company, to place unsafe food before its customers on Christmas Day.

‘Miss McSweeney was in overall charge. She knew, she must have known, that Mr Kaya did not follow safety procedures. Her default is clear, she should have intervened. She did not.’

Referring to the charge of perverting the course of justice, Mr Campbell-Tiech said: ‘The actions of Miss McSweeney and Mr Kaya in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy were not those of innocent actors caught up in a tragedy not of their making.

Mr Campbell-Tiech claimed the kitchen logbooks showed ‘the kitchen of The Railway Hotel paid lip service only to the systems the company had prescribed but did not enforce’.

The trial continues.

Wales to close only public food safety lab

I’m big on my Welsh heritage as I get older, but not sure I understand this.

hugh.pennigtonUK food safety go-to-person, Groundhog Day’s Hugh Pennington, says the closure of Wales’ only publicly-run food testing laboratory due to cuts mean councils may struggle to respond to another incident like the horsemeat scandal, and that relying on private laboratories could create problems in times of crisis.

Cardiff council said cuts had forced the closure but it would ensure public safety was maintained.

Eight other local authorities also use the laboratory.

It means the councils, like others around Wales, will contract-out the testing to privately-run facilities.

But Prof Pennington, an expert on bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “If you don’t have [a publicly-run lab] you could get into serious difficulties.

Prof Pennington led the investigation into the 2005 E. coli outbreak in south Wales

tipton.slasher.statue“Like horsemeat, where something comes out of the blue and suddenly there’s an enormous issue, the public want it resolved and you have to work out if there’s a public health threat.

“You have to work out what the scale of the problem is and you need some sort of central authority working for the public to do that.

“You can’t do that just by relying on outsourcing all your testing.”