Butcher of Wales report out Thursday

During an inquiry last year, Prof Hugh Pennington heard how John Tudor and Son, known on barfblog as the Butcher of Wales, used the same machine to vacuum package both raw and cooked meats, leading to an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak beginning in Sept. 2005, which sickened some150 children in 44 schools in southern Wales and killed five-year-old Mason Jones.

Sharon Mills, Mason’s mother and vocal food safety activist, was quoted in the Western Mail today as saying,

“There should be zero tolerance of rogue traders like Tudor.
“Health inspectors should not give people so many chances. Tudor fobbed them off so many times.
“Some meat producers could be dicing with death and they shouldn’t be given a second chance or allowed a few weeks to make things better because it can have a devastating effect. The inspectors should shut them down until they get it right.”

Ms Mills, also mum to Chandler, 11, and Cavan, four, said she hopes Professor Pennington will also recommend a change in the law to force butchers to have entirely separate areas for the processing of raw and cooked meat with separate sets of equipment for each.

“I would also like to see better training for GPs and hospitals, so they become more aware of the bacterium and more aware of the signs of infection so they can hospitalise people as soon as possible,”

“My little boy is lying in a cemetery. He died for nothing, so some good has got to come out of it. We also need to be looking at the health inspectors themselves and asking if they have the right training and if they are the right people to do the job. Are they strong enough to stand up to the people who break the rules?”

Inspection is part of the solution, but is only one factor in safe food production. Lowering the incidents of foodborne illness is not going to happen with increased inspection alone — what Mills suggests about the quality of inspection, and looking for the right indicators is more important.  Having inspectors, auditors, coaches, etc. who know the production, processing and preparation systems and who can be the bug is the key to risk reduction.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.