FOOD HYGIENE – A TIMELY REMINDER
You may have seen media or trade reports about outbreaks of salmonella in North Wales and E.Coli 0157 relating to bagged watercress and salads containing watercress.
The Food Standards Agency are investigating this outbreak of Salmonella – first detected in North Wales during August but with clusters of cases reported in Thames Valley, Leeds, Cumbria and Stafford areas. So far investigations indicate potential common links to consumption of cooked ham but nothing firm has yet been reported.
Salmonella food poisoning is usually caused by eating contaminated raw or undercooked food such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever.
Salmonella Advice to the general public from Public Health Wales says..
Careful hand washing is the most important prevention measure to take
Do not share towels [food businesses should not use cloth towels but use disposable towels - Sentient]
Use gloves when handling soiled articles from ill people
Wash soiled clothing and bed linen on ‘hot cycle’
If looking after someone with a stomach illness, carefully disinfect toilet seats, flush handles, wash hand basin taps and toilet door handles daily and after use
Maintain good personal hygiene and hygienic preparation / serving of food
If you have a gastrointestinal illness, don’t return to work, especially if you are a food handler or work with the vulnerable until you have been symptom free for 48 hours
Don’t visit patients in local hospitals or long term care facilities. While many people tend to feel better sooner, illness can still be spread if they return to work or school within 48 hours.
So far news has centred around news on the Food Standard Agency website that Sainsbury’s have recalled bagged watercress and salads containing watercress as a precautionary measure due to a possible association with an outbreak of E.coli 0157. Whether a link is subsequently established or not, this also provides a healthy reminder to food businesses and food handlers of the need to maintain strict hygiene measures. Check out our previous update on this from November 2012 here.
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 caterer’s 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.
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.