1st September 2014



 Issue No.  2014/13



E.coli O157 – New Guidance

In July the FSA issued it’s new guidelines on E.coli O157 under the title of E.coli O157 Control of Cross-contamination.  It covers the whole of the UK and is relevant to all food businesses that handle both raw and ready to eat foods.  A copy of the full document can be downloaded from the FSA website here.

As with previous guidance, it follows a natural succession of sections with the ‘meat’ of it (sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation) focusing on:

  • Separation;
  • Cleaning and disinfection;
  • Personal Hygiene and Handling Practices; and
  • Management Controls and Training.

In total the new guidance runs to some 26 pages and whilst it takes some effort to study it we recommend all food business owners and managers go through it.

Key areas within those sections are dealt with through useful content set out in easy tabular form.  We  like the way it splits the information into Legal Requirement, Guide to Compliance and Advice on Good Practice.  A few aspects caught our eye:

Complex Equipment

Vacuum packers, slicers and mincers etc. should be separate for raw and cooked food unless it can be demonstrated that robust procedures are in place and due diligence procedures shows you adequately wash and effectively disinfect them.  Cleaning will need to include full dismantlement and disinfection between use.  In the case of some equipment like vacuum packers this might well require the services of specialist engineers.  For this reason, we suggest it might well make more sense to have separate equipment; one for raw and one for ready to eat.

If you use one piece of equipment for both raw and ready to eat food then you must examine your practices to ensure you eradicate opportunities for cross-contamination.  Despite the new guidance our recommendation is to have separate machines.

It also provides advice on:

  • Separate food preparation rooms / areas.
  • Separate sinks for different processes.
  • Staff controls and training.
  • Pre-washed vegetables and fruit.
  • Having separate cash registers (raw / cooked areas).
  • Staff training.
  • Using disinfectants to BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697.
    Check what you are using – the numbers will normally be on the packaging.  Remember that domestic sanitisers and disinfectants may not meet these standards.
  • Using single use rather than colour coded cloths.
  • Hand washing i.e. anti-bacterial soaps to BS EN 1499 and hand wash gel to BS EN 1500.
    Gels should never be used as a replacement for hand washing.
  • Use of disposable aprons for raw foods to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.

A useful notice displaying guidance on effective hand washing is available to download free of charge from our website here.  Simply print it off, laminate it and display it at your hand wash sink stations.

As always, if you have any queries on the above or any other food hygiene or related training matter please feel free to contact us.





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