CROSS CONTAMINATION – E Coli O157 Control
The FSA has recently issued guidance to clarify the steps that food businesses need to take to control the risk of contamination from the food bug E.coli O157.
Those with good memories will remember the serious outbreaks of E.coli in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005. Both of these resulted in serious illness and in a few cases, death. The cause of these outbreaks was attributed to cross-contamination arising from a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection systems and a failure to separate raw meat handling from ready to eat food handling.
The FSA guidance has been developed to remind food businesses what they should be doing to protect their customers from the serious consequences of E.coli O157 food poisoning.
Those businesses properly applying good Food Safety and Hygiene systems (such as those provided by Sentient) will already be following the steps contained in the guidance. In this case the guidance provides reassurance that everything that can be done to prevent cross-contamination is being done.
It can be reasonably expected that this same guidance will be used by local authority food safety officers (EHOs) when inspecting businesses in their area.
So what are the Key Measures?
Identification of separate work areas, surfaces and equipment for raw and ready-to-eat food.
Use of separate complex equipment, such as vacuum-packing machines, slicers, and mincers for raw and ready-to-eat food.
Handwashing should be carried out using a recognised technique. Anti-bacterial gels must not be used instead of thorough handwashing.
Disinfectants and sanitisers must meet officially recognised standards and should be used as instructed by the manufacturer.
Although E.coli O157 is the key focus of this guidance, the measures outlined will also help in the control of other bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella.
The full guidance, developed following a public consultation and Professor Hugh Pennington’s report into the 2005 E.coli O157 outbreak, can be found at the link below, along with a fact-sheet for businesses, which summarises the guidance.
Source – Food Standards Agency