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 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. 

During food safety inspections officers will expect you to have put all the necessary control measures in place to control the risk from E. coli O157. The sanctions 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 Control Measures 

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.

  • ensure disinfectants and sanitisers conform to British Standards set by BS EN 1276:1997 or BS EN 13697:2001 and are always be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Further Information

If you require any further information, please contact us via the details below:

Environmental Health
Merlin House, Merlin Way, Ilkeston. DE7 4RA

Tel: 0115 907 2244 ext 3820