‘Pathetic’ £450,000 fine because of crypto in UK water supply

Ed Walker of Blog Preston writes the reason why Prestonians couldn’t drink their water without boiling it for a month has finally been revealed.

United Utilities has been fined after a cryptosporidium outbreak at its Franklaw treatment plants to the north of Preston,

The Drinking Water Inspectorate found the problems came from the Franklaw works using a different reservoir to source water

Rainwater running off agricultural land was able to access an underground water tank at Barnacre.

A ‘planned change in operations’ allowed the entry of the contaminated water into the treatment process.

Traces of cryptosporidium were detected in the water at Franklaw triggering a shut off of supplies for 700,000 people across Lancashire.

Supplies for many were knocked out for a month during the summer of 2015 as engineers worked to fix the issue.

At Preston Crown Court the hearing fined United Utilities £300,000 and additional costs of £150,000 were also agreed. The firm had pleaded guilty to supplying water unfit for human consumption.

United Utilities was criticised for not acting fast enough to issue the boil water warning to households and businesses.

It has since paid out £20million in compensation to customers through reduced water bills.

The fine was branded ‘pathetic’ by Preston MP Mark Hendrick.

‘Pure greed’ UK couple who faked holiday sickness are jailed

A couple have been jailed for making fake holiday sickness claims in a landmark case.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Deborah Briton, 53, and partner Paul Roberts, 43, tried to claim compensation by stating they and their two children had fallen ill on holidays to Majorca in 2015 and 2016.

But the couple’s social media showed posts where they boasted of holidays full of “sun, laughter and fun”, reports the Daily Mail.

Briton sobbed as she was sentenced to nine months in prison after admitting four counts of fraud in the private prosecution, brought by holiday company Thomas Cook.

Roberts, who was sentenced to 15 months after admitting the same offences, cried and shook in the court throughout the hearing.

The court heard the couple, from Wallasey, Wirral, tried to claim nearly £20,000 ($33,800) for the fake gastric illnesses and would have also cost the holiday firm a further £28,000 ($47,323) in legal expenses had their claims been successful.

Sentencing, Judge David Aubrey QC said their claims had been a “complete and utter sham”.

He said the claims, made in August last year, must have required planning and premeditation.

He said: “Why? Pure greed. Seeking to get something for nothing.”

Eggs are going to have Salmonella in ways we can’t predict, because we are mere mortals: Brits say, we know better

On the same day that Australia celebrated national egg day with vid-clips of schoolchildren pronouncing their love of eggs, the UK Food Standards Authority says it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

These are both so wrong on so many levels.

The UK’s contribution to international cuisine has been mushy peas and mad cow disease.

The UK Food Standards Authority’s contribution to food policy has been cook your food until it is piping hot, and now, it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

With five daughters, I’ve spent a lot of time around pregnant women, they may feel like Rocky Balboa, but biology don’t work that way.

The Food Standards Agency has announced a change to its advice about eating eggs – infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The revised advice, based on the latest scientific evidence, means that people vulnerable to infection or who are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning (such as infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people) can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or foods containing them.

We had previously advised that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs, because eggs may contain salmonella bacteria which can cause serious illness.  

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in February 2015 to look at egg safety. Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted that the presence of salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years, and the risks are very low for eggs which have been produced according to food safety controls applied by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It’s good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hardboil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark. The FSA has thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, and we’re confident that we can now change our advice to consumers.

“The major reduction in the risk of salmonella in Lion eggs is testament to the work carried out by egg producers. The measures they’ve taken, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced salmonella levels in UK hens.”

A range of interventions have been put in place across the food chain as part of the Lion scheme including: vaccinating hens, enhanced testing for salmonella, improved farm hygiene, effective rodent control, independent auditing and traceability, and keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop.

Great. Show us mere mortals the numbers.

And any science-based body that recommends cooking food until it is piping hot is seriously suspect.

Egg farmer David Brass says the introduction of the British Lion standard has made all the difference.

“We know from back in the ’80s when all the scare started, there was an issue with eggs.

“But what the Lion standard does, it is a fully independent, audited code of practice to make sure we have standards on the farm that make sure we can’t have any of those disease problems again.

“And it has shown time after time, in those intervening years, that it is just a brilliant food safety code.”

Yup, audits make the difference (not).

This won’t end well.

In Australia, the morning shows were filled with fluff about the greatness of eggs, with no mention of the following outbreaks involving raw eggs or raw-egg sauces.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx

Barf scam: UK cracks down

Food is, and remains, 21st century snake oil.

For every fatal, life-threatening or barf-inducing foodborne illness, there’s a grifter, huckster or con around the corner.

According to Joe Hinton of the Daily Star, hoteliers in popular resorts say holidaymakers have been suffering “harassment” from conmen.

The fraudsters convince tourists to make false claims and then take a cut of any payout. A source told the Daily Star Sunday: “This is almost as big a business as drugs in some places.

“Yes, the authorities are trying to crack down, but there are still hundreds going through every week.

“Hotels don’t want the hassle of legal fees so they pay out more often than not.

 “All you need is a picture of a receipt for anti-sickness medication.

“Most people get £2,000 a claim. The tout skims off the top and so does the law firm.”

Now police are going undercover to catch the fraudsters, who are costing the hotel industry £60million a year.

The investigation has been backed by UK tour operators.

Freedom of Information documents seen by the Daily Star Sunday show that Jet2, Thomas Cook, Monarch and TUI are looking into hundreds of bogus claims in Mallorca and other islands.

The documents said: “The rise in the number of fraudulent claims is having a serious impact on contracts for next season as hoteliers turn to other markets such as Germany.

“And Spanish police are eager to make some arrests to start setting a clear example.”

UK tour operators and Spanish hotels have been hit with scores of compensation claims in the last few months.

Swindlers are making official complaints about food poisoning.

Then, on arrival in the UK they are getting anti-sickness drugs. Under our laws they don’t even need a doctor’s note – a pharmacy receipt is enough to make a claim.

Millions have already been paid out to holidaymakers – leading to chefs in the resorts being unjustly sacked.

Last week Brit mum Laura Joyce, 37, was arrested in Mallorca on suspicion of running a £9million holiday sickness scam.

She is accused of using middlemen to encourage holidaymakers to fake illnessness to claim compensation.

Jet2 has now hired private detectives to nail the cowboy companies touting for business.

It has already caught one couple touting for business in Benidorm.

Fancy food ain’t safe food, crab edition

The Crab in the Park Central Hotel restaurant, Exeter Road, Bournemouth, UK, which boasts two AA Rosettes and its chefs are ‘Michelin-star trained’ has been given a zero food hygiene rating after food inspectors launched an investigation.

‘Urgent improvement is necessary’ at after an impromptu inspection earlier this year.

Alex Winter of the Daily Echo writes inspectors raised concerns under the category ‘management of food safety’, which includes assessment of the system or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat and evidence that staff know about food safety.

However, the inspectors also found improvements are also needed in categories ‘hygienic food handling’, which includes preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage, as well as ‘cleanliness and condition of facilities and building to enable good food hygiene’.

Seafood mains on the à la carte menu begin at £18.95 for ‘The Crab’s posh fish and chips’, while lobster linguine is £26.95.

The restaurant also offers delicacies including sashimi tuna tartar, scallops and octopus.

The manager of the Park Central Hotel had not returned calls from the Daily Echo at the time of going to press.

Fancy food ain’t safe food, Mark Sergeant’s Rocksalt edition

An award-winning Folkestone, UK, restaurant run by celebrity chef Mark Sergeant has been given a low food hygiene rating.

Inspectors discovered ‘unsafe’ cooking procedures at Rocksalt, in Folkestone Harbour and the top eatery was told ‘improvement is necessary’.

Callum Wilson of Kent Live reports the damning Environmental Health report, inspectors said diners were at risk of food poisoning.

The restaurant, which has previously received rave reviews, has now had its five star rating taken away and replaced with the much lower rating ‘requires improvement’.

A Shepway District Council environmental health officer took the perfect score away after finding a ‘high risk’ chicken liver was undercooked.

The officer said: “I noted some cooking procedures that could lead to an unsafe product. For example: chicken livers maybe cooked “medium”.

“Chicken liver pate is cooked in the combi-oven. Core temperature is monitored using a probe and the product is considered cooked when it reaches 70 C.

“The time temperature combination for thorough cooking is 70C held for 2 minutes.”

In a warning to the restaurant, the officer said: “Please ensure chicken products are thoroughly cooked (as per your HACCP procedure for high risk products)”.

Rocksalt is co-owned by celebrity chef Mark Sargeant and Josh DeHaan and opened in 2011.

No one at the restaurant was available for comment.

However, a post appeared on the Rocksalt website saying: “We have requested a revisit and have addressed the single cooking technique deemed incorrect.

“We have urgently retrained all staff to our correct procedure.”

Microbiological failure? UK school forces teachers to shake hands with pupils to help kids feel respected

Trevor Noah of The Daily Show rarely shakes hands with guests or correspondants.

He’s big into the fist-bump.

Maybe Schaffner can design a study to figure out which is microbiologically safer.

It’d be another pop-culture hit.

Maybe someone has done it.

Whatever, the  handshaking policy introduced by a new principal has led to panic among staff and parents.

Some teachers at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, southeast of London, are now arming themselves with hand sanitiser amid fears that shaking hands up to 150 times a day may cause them to pick up germs.

Principal Amanda Simpson is standing by her decision, which sees teachers shaking hands with every member of their class before each lesson.

One parent told local news website Kent Live that she was worried about the consequences of the mandatory handshaking.

“It will be interesting to see what happens if there’s an outbreak of Norovirus,” she said.

“I assume it was introduced because the new head wanted to introduce some element of respect – but I wouldn’t think that sort of thing would make any difference.”

Ms Simpson believes that starting every lesson “with a handshake and a smile” makes children feel welcome and appreciated.

She confirmed that hand sanitiser was available throughout the school for anyone worried about the spread of germs.

31 sickened by E. coli O55 in Dorset: Almost 4 years later, health-types’ report is public

In Dec. 2014, an outbreak of E. coli O55 was identified in Dorset, UK with at least 31 sickened. Public Health England (PHE) and local environmental health officials investigated and found nothing, other than cats were also being affected.

There was a protracted battle between local residents affected by the outbreak, and the lack of disclosure by PHE, documented in June, 2017.

But now, the health-types have gone public, in a report in the current issue of Eurosurveillance.

The first documented British outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O55:H7 began in the county of Dorset, England, in July 2014. Since then, there have been a total of 31 cases of which 13 presented with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The outbreak strain had Shiga toxin (Stx) subtype 2a associated with an elevated risk of HUS. This strain had not previously been isolated from humans or animals in England. The only epidemiological link was living in or having close links to two areas in Dorset.

Extensive investigations included testing of animals and household pets. Control measures included extended screening, iterative interviewing and exclusion of cases and high-risk contacts. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) confirmed that all the cases were infected with similar strains. A specific source could not be identified. The combination of epidemiological investigation and WGS indicated, however, that this outbreak was possibly caused by recurrent introductions from a local endemic zoonotic source, that a highly similar endemic reservoir appears to exist in the Republic of Ireland but has not been identified elsewhere, and that a subset of cases was associated with human-to-human transmission in a nursery.

Recurrent seasonal outbreak of an emerging serotype of shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC O55:H7 STX2A) in the South West of England, July 2014 to September 2015

Eurosurveillance, vol 22, issue 36, 07 September 2017, N McFarland, N Bundle, C Jenkins, G Godbole, A Mikhail, T Dallman, C O’Connor, N McCarthy, E O’Connell, J Treacy, G Dabke, J Mapstone, Y Landy, J Moore, R Partridge, F Jorgensen, C Willis, P Mook, C Rawlings, R Acornley, C Featherstone, S Gayle, J Edge, E McNamara, J Hawker, Balasegaram, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.36.30610,

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22872

Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

Mar.17

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough.

Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

8 sick from campy in liver parfait at UK boutique hotel

Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that chicken liver parfait was the cause of illness at Brockley Hall Hotel in Saltburn.

However “no obvious defect was noted in the production of this food item”, therefore meaning it cannot be concluded with certainty why it caused illness.

Undercooking?

A total of eight cases were reported to PHE North-east – six of which were laboratory confirmed cases of campylobacter . The two remaining cases were “probable” reports Laura Love of Gazette Live.

Most of those who fell ill had been attending a 40th birthday celebration on Friday, July 7 – with three of them being hospitalised.

This included the birthday girl herself, who ended up in hospital on a drip.

A spokeswoman for PHE said their investigation is now complete , and that a copy of the outbreak report has been sent to Redcar and Cleveland Council.

The decision on what further action, if any, to take rests with the local authority .

Posers: UK holidaymakers warned with prison if they fake food poisoning on holiday

A bout of food poisoning is the preferred excuse for celebrities too hungover to perform (see the celebrity barf section of barfblog.com).

But now, the country whose contributions to international cuisine have been mushy peas and mad cow disease, the country whose regulators say with a straight face to cook meat until it’s piping hot, is now saying that Brits abroad who fake food poisoning on holiday to get compensation will now face jail as tour operators crack down on a multi-million pound con.

I have no idea how true any of this is, and sounds more like company PR, but according to The Sun, travel firm Abta claims cowboy firms are telling holidaymakers that they won’t be prosecuted if they falsely claim to be unwell.

They even bombard returning Brits with cold calls and messages on social media asking to submit sickness compensation claims following their holiday.

In the past 18 months, UK holidaymakers submitted almost 4,000 sickness claims.

That compares to just 114 from Germans and 39 Scandinavians.

But penalties for those found to be lying include a fine, criminal record and potential imprisonment either in the UK or in the destination of their holiday.

Since spring last year, there have been 15 times more illness claims made to travel firm Tui.

It’s after tens of thousands of UK holidaymakers claimed they had got food poisoning while on holiday across the globe.

Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Holidaymakers need to understand that making a fraudulent claim will have consequences.

“People tempted to fabricate holiday sickness in order to make a claim should be aware that this is a crime and that they risk ending up in jail either in the UK or abroad.”

A government initiative plans to wipe out rogue companies encouraging Brits to make fake claims.

Last month it emerged the Ministry of Justice had issued six warnings and got six cowboy websites taken down.

Save the poop and get it tested.