7th November 2012


 Issue No.  2012/17



E.coli Outbreak - A Reminder to Food Handlers

You may have seen the media coverage of the recent E.coli outbreak in Northern Ireland. If not click here for more information http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19958563 This business - a restaurant has closed down voluntarily, however you must wonder what the effect will be on its longer term reputation. It is not uncommon for businesses to remain closed under such circumstances.

How would your business deal with such a situation, or better still what can you do to prevent it?

E.coli is caused by eating infected food such as processed meats, unpasteurised milk and cheese, by having contact with farm animals or with someone who is already infected. The Food Standards Agency is reminding food workers suffering from symptoms of food poisoning, or those in close contact with someone who is, should stay away from work and see their GP.

What measures can you take?

Bacteria can be spread very quickly through contact, so it is especially important to maintain good hygiene standards at all times and not just when there has been a food poisoning outbreak or when someone close to you is ill. Preventing infection by maintaining good general hygiene practices and ensuring hands are washed and thoroughly dried before handling food are key features of a caterers food safety management system. Cross contamination can be avoided by having segregated work areas, storage, preparation equipment and of course competent staff. Competence can be achieved through training, supervision and instruction.

From direct experience we can report that when EHO's are inspecting catering establishments, personal hygiene is expected to be fully detailed in the food safety management system. This of course goes wider than E.coli, but is a key driver at the moment.

Need help on how to set up and maintain good hygiene procedures, train staff and prevent spread of infection to others through food?

Please feel free to contact us on 08456 446006




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