Cigarette butt in chips and rats spotted on premises among FSAI findings

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) report for 2016 reveals that they handled over 10,000 queries in 2016, as well as outlining some of the more gruesome finds made by their inspectors.

The report outlines the wide scope of the Authority, who now supervise almost 50,000 food businesses (49,404 to be exact) and their Advice Line took 10,497 queries from consumers, manufacturers and retailers in 2016.

According to the report, contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported to them by consumers.

Last year these reports included:

  • allegations of food contaminated with insects and glass,
  • a live insect found in a packaged dessert
  • a long black hair in garlic sauce
  • a human nail in a takeaway meal
  • glass in a dessert
  • plastic rope in a takeaway meal
  • a cigarette butt in a bag of chips.

Other complaints regarding poor hygiene standards included:

  • dirty customer toilets
  • rats seen on the premises
  • dirty tables and floors
  • and one case of a staff member at a deli sneezing into their hands and then preparing sandwiches without washing their hands.

All complaints received were followed up and investigated.

In total, 106 Enforcement Orders were served on food businesses last year by the Authority.

That broke down to 94 Closure Orders, three Improvement orders and nine Prohibition Orders.

The annual report also reveals the FSAI sampled and tested 56,588 samples, while 2,625 food supplements were assessed.

And the highest number of food alerts were issued in a decade, 39 in total.

These alerts resulted in product recalls or withdrawals.

50 sick in North Dublin Salmonella outbreak

Lloyd Mudiwa of the Irish Medical Times reports a large outbreak of foodborne salmonellosis involving more than 50 cases of infection in North Dublin is being investigated by public health specialists, IMT reports.

The HSE was initially notified on May 18 of an outbreak of salmonellosis associated with consumption of food at a family party in Dublin some five days earlier. Foods had been provided by a food business in North Dublin. Over the weekend of May 13 and 14 the business had supplied food to multiple off-site parties in addition to on-site dining. The investigation identified illness among attendees at additional off-site parties.

An Outbreak Control Team was convened and chaired by the Department of Public Health (East) with representation from Environmental Health Service ((EHS) Dublin Specialist (Communicable Disease Unit) and Dublin, Fingal), the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), Public Health Laboratory, and the National Salmonella Shigella and Listeria Reference Laboratory.

A closure order was served on the food business on May 19 by the HSE EHS under Section 53 of the FSAI Act 1998. Alerts were issued to GPs and hospital emergency departments by the Department of Public Health (East).

“To date more than 50 cases of illness have been identified and 24 persons have tested positive for salmonella. Six people have been admitted to hospital.

Use a thermometer Ireland pt, deux: Growing trend for eating rare burgers could hide deadly bacteria

Gavin White of the Independent follows up on the warning from safefood Ireland that there is “no way of knowing” if rare burger meat is safe.

A leading food safety expert said he was “very surprised” restaurants were offering undercooked burgers and putting their customers at risk.

Professor Martin Cormican, from the school of Medicine in NUI Galway, said small children and pregnant women were at an even higher risk of becoming ill.

“Restaurants need to understand that not every customer is the same and some are at more risk than others. There are liability issues,” Prof Cormican said.

He said that every burger had the potential to have the deadly bacteria, Vtec, which could cause severe illness.

“Although steak can have its bacteria killed on the outside, mince has the potential for the bacteria to end up in the middle where if not cooked properly, has the potential to make you seriously ill,” he said.

Safefood Ireland has launched its Burger Fever campaign as it was revealed 96pc of Irish people consider themselves well informed about food safety, yet 51pc are eating undercooked burgers.

A batch of French mince was recalled last week from French supermarkets over worries for the presence of Vtec, and Prof Cormican said it could easily happen in Ireland.

“Don’t take the risk, and especially if you’re taking medicine for illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis which severely impacts your immune system,” Prof Cormican said.

Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at Safefood, said around 2pc of all mince had Vtec in it so the risk was always there for the “growing trend” of burger lovers.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

Ellen M. Thomas, RTI International; Andrew Binder, Anne McLaughlin, Lee-Ann Jaykus, Dana Hanson, and Benjamin Chapman, North Carolina State University; and Doug Powell, barfblog.com

Journal of Food Protection

DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef. The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses. The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

 

Use a fucking thermometer: Ireland says eating undercooked burgers ‘like driving without a seatbelt’

Diners who enjoy a juicy burger have been warned that eating them pink in the middle is “like driving without wearing a seatbelt”.

Fiachradh McDermott of The Irish Times reports that safefood began its new campaign, “Burger Fever”, on Thursday to inform people that eating undercooked burgers could lead to serious or sometimes life-threatening food poisoning.

What she didn’t report is that color is a terrible indicator of safety, and that needle-or-blade-tenderized steaks carry the same risk as mince, so this science-based agency is publishing fairy tales.

But I’ll let the bureaucrats speak for themselves and you judge.

The body advised people to always ask for burgers to be well-cooked in restaurants.

In an online survey conducted by safefood, 96 per cent of people considered themselves well-informed about food safety. However, 51 per cent admitted to eating undercooked burgers.

Two thirds of respondents said they would reconsider their choice if they knew there was a possibility of food poisoning.

Undercooked burgers carry the risk of E. coli, which can have long-term effects. The biggest worry is a type called VTEC, which causes severe diarrhoea.

Dr Linda Gordon, chief specialist in food science at safefood, said it can result in “frequent serious complications.” VTEC can affect the blood and kidneys, and is most serious in older people and children under five. However, it only takes as little as ten E. coli cells to make a person sick, she said.

Dr Gordon said the campaign is intended as a preventative measure, but “emphasising the difference between a burger and a steak” is an important aspect.

According to Dr Gary Kearney, director of food science at safefood, “Mince used in hamburgers is a higher risk as the food poisoning bacteria that live on the surface of the beef (steak) is then mixed through the middle of the burger when the beef is minced – so in effect, the outside is now on the inside.”

Dr Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), emphasised the possibility and danger of contracting VTEC from undercooked meat.

“Eating burgers that are pink in the middle is a bit like driving without a seatbelt; you might get away with it for years but if something goes wrong and you are harmed, will you still think it was worth it?”

No mention of thermometer, cooking temps and hold times, just plain pandering.

Use a fucking thermometer and stick it in.

Assessment of risk communication about undercooked hamburgers by restaurant servers

E. Thomas, E,M,, Binder, A., McLaughlin, A., Jaykus, L., Hanson, D, Powell, D.A., Chapman, B. 2016.

Journal of Food Protection Vol. 79, No. 12, pp. 2113-2118

http://www.jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-065?code=fopr-site

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Model Food Code, it is the duty of a food establishment to disclose and remind consumers of risk when ordering undercooked food such as ground beef.

The purpose of this study was to explore actual risk communication activities of food establishment servers. Secret shoppers visited restaurants (n=265) in seven geographic locations across the U.S., ordered medium rare burgers, and collected and coded risk information from chain and independent restaurant menus and from server responses.

The majority of servers reported an unreliable method of doneness (77%) or other incorrect information (66%) related to burger doneness and safety. These results indicate major gaps in server knowledge and risk communication, and the current risk communication language in the Model Food Code does not sufficiently fill these gaps. Furthermore, should servers even be acting as risk communicators? There are numerous challenges associated with this practice including high turnover rates, limited education, and the high stress environment based on pleasing a customer. If it is determined that servers should be risk communicators, food establishment staff should be adequately equipped with consumer advisory messages that are accurate, audience-appropriate, and delivered in a professional manner so as to help their customers make more informed food safety decisions.

Ireland has ‘way too much iodine in milk’

This is a proactive approach to something us westerners don’t think about any more: the use of food supplements to ward off chronic disease.

Teagasc’s Dr. David Gleeson says the Irish dairy industry has lost markets in the EU due to the excessive levels of iodine in milk, adding, “We have way too much iodine in our milk.”

“A number of years ago when we had a deficiency of iodine, around 30 to 40 years ago, it was suggested that we should have higher levels of iodine [in our feedstuffs],” Gleeson said when explaining how the current issue developed.

And now, he said, there is too much iodine going into cows’ diets.

“About 12mg of iodine per cow per day is a safe bet. It’s 5mg per cow per day in other countries.

“We’re putting in 120mg in a lot of situations. Some of our feeds could contain 30mg/kg of iodine and farmers could be feeding 4kg of that. That’s 120mg per cow per day,” Gleeson said.

He also mentioned how some supplementary magnesium products contain added iodine and can result in iodine intakes of up to 90mg per cow per day.

Nutrition Australia says iodine is an essential trace element and an integral component of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are required for normal growth and development of tissues and maturation of our bodies. Iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of mental retardation in the world; obtaining iodine through the food supply is therefore paramount. Iodine deficiency has re-emerged in Australia with the introduction of new practices of sanitization in the dairy industry and a decline in use and consumption of iodised salt.

 

Death in Dublin sparks Salmonella investigation

Investigations have been launched into a suspected outbreak of food poisoning after the death of a Dublin woman at the weekend.

The kitchens of a North Dublin pub have also been shut pending the investigation.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is liaising with the HSE after a number of people were hospitalised and treated for suspected salmonella poisoning following a First Communion party.

Reporter with Independent News and Media Conor Feehan said: “It’s understood that food may have been made on a premises and then transported to the house for a First Communion party.”

He added: “But it seems that after the party a number of people took ill and in this particular case a woman in her 50s was later found dead at home by her husband on Sunday.”

In a statement the Health Service Executive said it is investigating an outbreak of food poisoning due to salmonella in North Dublin and is liaising with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. An Outbreak Control Team has been formed and an investigation is ongoing.

Woman who slipped on vomit and broke ankle at Irish pub awarded €82k

Tim Healy of the Independent reports a woman who broke her ankle when she slipped on vomit while leaving a toilet in a pub has been awarded €82,000 in High Court damages. 

cat-barfBookmaker’s clerk Fiona McGovern, Huntstown Wood, Clonsilla, Dublin, sued Tom Salmon Ltd, owners of Salmon’s Pub in Blanchardstown, Dublin, over the incident on March 24, 2008.

Ms McGovern (39) claimed the pub was negligent in failing to maintain appropriate cleaning standards and failing to ensure the vomit was cleaned up.

Awarding her a total of €82,000, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said she had suffered a nasty injury to her left ankle. On the application of her barrister, Bernard McDonagh SC, the judge also awarded her the costs of the case. 

Mr Justice Cross said Ms McGovern had been at the pub with family on Easter Sunday to watch a football match on the TV between Liverpool and Man Utd.  She was there “for some inexplicable reason to support Man Utd”, he said.

She returned later that night at around 11.30pm to see if her sister was still there and was advised she (sister) was in the beer garden, he said.

Ms McGovern went to the ladies toilet and on leaving it she slipped on vomit which was on the floor. A woman who knew her to see said that earlier one of a group of young lads, who had been sitting near the toilets, had vomited twice on the floor. 

It had not been cleaned up according to that woman, the judge said. The defendant had submitted it was hard to believe vomit would have been on the floor for up to one-and-a-half hours after it happened, the judge said.  

Food fraud: Gluten-free BS in Ireland because health and legal concern

Partner Amy is gluten intolerant and has gone through a battery of increasingly valid tests to prove the point.

gluten_free_bison_2It’s a pain to shop for her and make meals, but she tolerates me, so there’s some angelic halo hovering above her poofy hair.

Irish food manufacturer Largo, whose products include Tayto, has admitted it sold crisps containing a high amount of gluten in a packet that was supposed to be gluten-free.

The company has pleaded guilty to breaching food safety regulations – a criminal offence.

Luke Byrne of Herald.ie reports that in May last year, a mother from Arklow, Co Wicklow, bought a 50g packet of O’Donnell’s mature Irish cheese and onion, gluten-free crisps for her 10-year-old son.

However, she noticed he was beginning to suffer a reaction to the crisps when his ears started turning red.

The mother complained to the company and the HSE subsequently brought a case against the food manufacturer.

Judge Grainne Malone said that the case was “a very serious matter” and the court was told the maximum penalty on indictment in the circuit court was a €500,000 fine and/or three years in prison.

However, the judge accepted jurisdiction of the district court in the case.

Giving evidence, HSE environmental health officer Caitriona Sheridan said that, in order for a product to be labelled gluten-free, it was required to have a gluten content of less than 20 parts-per-milligram.

tayto-gluten-freeWhen the crisps that were the subject of the complaint were tested, they were found to have more than 700ppmg.

A second control sample of the product was also taken, which lab tests found had more than 100ppmg of gluten.

Two other complaints were made about the presence of gluten in the gluten-free products. The company decided not to send out two pallets of products, identified as containing the incorrect crisps.

Counsel for the company, Andrew Whelan, told the court the issue was identified as a malfunction in the line.

“My client’s response to this had been ‘hands up’,” he said.

Mr Whelan told the court that Largo, which the court was told has an annual turnover of €90m, had spent €100,000 to remedy the problem and gluten-fee products were now packaged in a “totally segregated” production area.

Shouldn’t this have happened before?

Salmonella positive sprouts sold in Ireland

Seán McCárthaigh of The Times reports that EU inspectors auditing food hygiene practices in Ireland found European regulations were being broken, particularly in relation to seeds and sprouts.

kevin-allen-sproutIn November last year, four official samples of sprouts tested positive for salmonella. However, the batch was placed on the market without waiting for the final analytical results.

The Department of Agriculture said it had increased controls on businesses involved in the production of sprouts.

The European Food Safety Authority has estimated that food of non-animal origin was associated with 10 per cent of outbreaks of E.coli across the EU between 2007 and 2011; 35 per cent of hospitalisations and 46 per cent of deaths.

It linked leafy greens eaten raw as well as bulb and stem vegetables such as tomatoes and melons with salmonella and fresh pods, legumes and grains with E. coli.

The inspectors said the system of official controls in Ireland on food producers was supported by a well-functioning network of adequately staffed and equipped laboratories.

The EU report found that 13 per cent of registered primary producers of non-animal food were inspected last year.

There are 761 registered producers of fruit, vegetables and potatoes in Ireland as well as 88 producers of leafy green vegetables, 30 producers of soft fruit, 17 producers of sprouted seed, 301 producers of potatoes only and 225 others including 80 mushroom producers.

Safer production of fresh produce in Ireland

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has published new guidance to assist growers with the safe production of fresh produce on farms.

ireland-produceThe guidance and its accompanying simplified leaflet outlines the potential risks associated with fresh produce and provides practical advice to growers to reduce this risk and improve food safety. They were developed in conjunction with an expert working group comprising growers, processors, retailers, State bodies and former representatives. Fresh produce (which includes fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, sprouted seeds, edible flowers and herbs) is an integral component of the Irish diet and its popularity and consumption continues to increase. As such, it is important that growers producing fresh produce in Ireland use good agricultural and hygiene practices to reduce risk and improve the safety of fresh produce for all consumers.

The new guidance comes at a time when outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with fresh produce are increasing. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has identified that fresh produce such as leafy greens; bulb and stem vegetables; tomatoes; melons; fresh pods, legumes or grains; sprouted seeds and berries pose the highest risks to consumers. In 2013, frozen berries caused 240 confirmed cases of hepatitis, with a probable 1,075 further cases across 11 European countries, including Ireland. The FSAI’s advice to boil all frozen imported berries before consumption is still in place, as contaminated berries could still be circulating in the food chain.

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI anything which comes into contact with fresh produce has the potential to cause contamination and it is vital that growers take the necessary steps to limit contamination of fresh produce in the first instance.

    “A lot of fresh produce is eaten raw such as fruits, vegetables and herbs, so any harmful bugs that may be in the produce will not be removed by cooking. This places a big onus on growers to use good agricultural and hygiene practices to reduce the risk of contamination of fresh produce,” said Dr Byrne.

The guidance makes it clear that anyone producing fresh produce for sale must be registered as a grower with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The guidance goes on to highlight eight key areas which growers should address to help reduce risk and improve food safety, including: 

  • Choose the right site to grow fresh produce
  • Restrict the access of animals, pests and people to that site
  • Use organic fertilisers safely
  • Use pesticides safely
  • Source and use a safe water supply
  • Use good harvesting practices
  • Train staff and provide good staff facilities
  • Put a system of traceability and recall in place

The FSAI acknowledges and thanks the working group* who assisted in developing the guidance document. It was comprised of growers, processors, retailers as well as representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Bord Bia, Teagasc, the EPA and the Irish Farmers Association. The new guidance document and leaflet are available for free download at www.fsai.ie.