The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued guidance notes to clarify the steps that food businesses will be expected to take to control the risk of contamination from E. coli O157. This is because serious illness and death can result from serving food contaminated with E. coli O157. Controlling and preventing the spread of this organism is a food safety priority in all businesses handling raw and ready-to-eat foods.
The guidance has been developed in response to the serious outbreaks of E. coli O157 food poisoning in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005 and the recommendations of Professor Hugh Pennington's report into the 2005 outbreak.
The guidance clearly sets out the necessary steps food businesses should be taking and covers in some detail how to prevent cross-contamination of ready-to-eat foods and so protect customers from a potentially fatal infection. Whilst preventing cross contamination of ready-to-eat foods is not a new requirement the emergence of E. coli O157 as a serious and potentially fatal infection has resulted in this new guidance which aims to address the failures that lead to the two outbreaks mentioned above.
You may already have adopted some or all of these key measures in your business, however we will be expecting you to have put all the necessary control measures in place to control the risk from E. coli O157. The Food Safety Agency guidance puts the seriousness of failing to control cross-contamination of E. coli O157 into context; the sanctions to be considered for non-compliance can be serious and include:
- Seizure and destruction of all food not produced in accordance with statutory hygiene requirements;
- The serving of Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices to prohibit the use of equipment, parts of premises or whole premise where cross-contamination is not being properly controlled.
Key Measures Highlighted in the Guidance
Below are some of the key areas that must be addressed and will be looked at in detail at the next inspection of your business. You must:-
identify and use separate work areas, separate surfaces and separate equipment for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
use separate complex equipment, such as vacuum packing machines, slicers and mincers for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
ensure good personal hygiene by all staff including hand washing carried out using an effective technique. Anti-bacterial gels cannot be used instead of hand washing with soap and water.
If you require any further information, please contact us via the details below:
Tel: 0115 907 2244 ext 3820