Salmonella risk sparks massive recall of UK supermarket dips

Fears over salmonella in guacamole and other dips have sparked a massive product recall affecting Tesco, Waitrose, Co-op and Sainsbury’s.

guacamoleNottinghamshire shoppers are being told to take the affected products back to the stores where they were bought – and they will be given a refund.

The Food Standards Agency said Bakkavor was recalling a number of its chilled guacamole products due to the possible presence of the bacteria.

A spokesman for the agency said: “The use-by dates for the products are up to and including July 2, 2016, and have been recalled as a precautionary measure because the products might contain salmonella. Symptoms caused by salmonella usually include fever, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

“The affected products have been supplied to the following UK retailers: Co-op; Tesco; Sainsbury’s; and Waitrose.

“Bakkavor is recalling the products from the retailers listed above. Product recall notices have been displayed in the retail stores that sell the products, explaining to customers the reason for recall and the actions they can take if they have bought the affected product.

UK Tesco recalls ‘disgusting smelling’ squash (cordial) drink

I didn’t know what cordial was until I came to Australia, and had to look up the UK version of squash. Seems to be the same: a concentrated fruit extract added with water or other things – I prefer the lime.

tsco.squashTesco has recalled one of its own-brand squash drinks after customers complained of a ”disgusting smell” and parents raised the possibility that it could have caused their children’s stomach upsets.

The supermarket said it had withdrawn the Tesco No Added Sugar Double Concentrate Apple and Blackcurrant 750ml and 1.5l products and was investigating complaints.

They later said a flavour additive had been added in error to the squash, but said it posed no food safety risk

A post on the PlayPennies website alerting users to the recall prompted a flurry of replies from those who said they had opened the squash and noticed an unusual smell while others reported their children had vomited after drinking it.

One poster wrote: ”I bought 2 bottles of this squash over a week to a fortnight ago. We opened one and it smelt absolutely disgusting … the only way to describe the smell was that it had been mixed with used toilet water …”

Clairedavies85 said: ”Had this other day. The smell was horrendous but drank it anyway as I thought they just changed it. Since then both my daughter and partner have had bad bellies.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “A flavour additive, which is not part of the ingredients for this product, has been added in error. The additive is called Dimethyl Disulphide and is a common ingredient in food products.

“It is an approved additive and poses no food safety risk. However, it does have a strong odour, similar to garlic, which customers are likely to find unpleasant.

“We have withdrawn the product from sale. Only products bought since the New Year may be affected, they will have a best-before date of October 2015.

“Any customers can return this product, open or unopened, to any Tesco store.”

The Food Standards Agency has not issued an alert, explaining that it would only do so if it was aware of a ”food safety implication.”

UK Health Secretary admits call from Tesco boss over chicken Campylobacter tests

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt (right), has admitted that a Tesco director who is also a former head of the Food Standards Agency contacted the government this summer to argue against FSA plans to publish food poisoning contamination rates for chicken in each supermarket chain.

jeremy.huntThe Guardian reports that the first set of results naming retailers over contamination was supposed to be published in June, but after pressure from other government departments, the FSA backed down. It only put out results in anonymized form in August. When it published individual supermarket results in November, they revealed that, on average, 70% of fresh retail chicken was contaminated with the potentially lethal Campylobacter bug. Campylobacter contamination was found in 64% of Tesco chicken.

Hunt has now acknowledged that Tim Smith, who went directly from his role as regulator at the FSA to a post as technical director of Tesco, requested a telephone meeting in June with one of the health department’s most senior civil servants to discuss the FSA results.

The Department of Health (DoH) refused to answer the Guardian’s requests for information about the incident last month but, responding to a formal letter from the Labour shadow ministerial team, Hunt has now agreed that Smith questioned the naming of individual retailers and the value of publishing the results.

Hunt also acknowledges that Smith’s view were passed by DH to the FSA and the Cabinet Office. He denies, however, that there was any improper influence on the FSA decision. “These communications in no way influenced the decision to delay publication of the names of the retailers,” he wrote. The delay in publishing the names arose because the sample size was deemed insufficiently robust “and may have given a false picture of the situation across the country”, he said.

chickenThe shadow environment secretary, Maria Eagle, accused the government of complacency over the issue. She said: “Consumers will be appalled to learn that ministers have repeatedly failed to take any action to tackle the alarming levels of campylobacter in supermarket chicken. After clearly inappropriate lobbying of the government, the Food Standards Agency decided not to name and shame the retailer[s] alongside levels of campylobacter contamination.

“Instead of being the champion of the consumer, the government is acting as the mouthpiece of the food poisoners.”

Smith’s move from the regulator to a supermarket he had been regulating in October 2012 was approved by the prime minister after guidance from the advisory committee on business appointments (ACOBA), on condition that Smith did not lobby civil servants or ministers on behalf of Tesco for two years.

Tesco is understood to maintain that the contact over campylobacter did not constitute lobbying. A Tesco spokesperson said: “Tim Smith has abided by the restriction agreed with ACOBA on lobbying the government on behalf of Tesco.”

‘Why have I a soggy fishcake on my plate?’ Tesco customers’ horror as they find dead bird in salad during meal

It’s happened before it will happen again, but the discovery of a dead bird in a store-bought salad still has a gross factor, regardless of biological realities.

According to the Mail Online, James, 30, and Jasmine Watson, 32, of Yate, Gloucestershire, made the grisly find in a £1.50 bag of the blackcap-bird-songbird-warbler.jpg.492x0_q85_crop-smartsupermarket’s Babyleaf Rocket Salad when they began eating in dimmed light.

The five-inch bird, which Tesco later identified as a Blackcap European warbler, was inside the salad which Mrs Watson had ordered from the supermarket’s website three weeks ago on January 30.

The couple went into their local Tesco Extra store to complain – and a manager visited their home to remove the bird. The supermarket later apologized and offered a £200 gift card as compensation.

Mr Watson said, We had the food delivery a couple of days before and then had gone out for a few drinks on the Friday evening. We came back and were preparing dinner in the kitchen.

“My wife was cooking some scallops and steak and I prepared the salad. I opened the bag, tipped it into a salad bowl and cut up some 6478873W004 TESCO BIRD IN SALAD.jpgother salad bits and put them on top.

“Then I served the salad on some plates. We sat down at the breakfast bar and only had a few low lights on so we were effectively eating by candlelight.

“I took three mouthfuls and then saw it. My first reaction was why have I got a soggy fishcake on my plate? But this was a full-size dead bird.”

A Tesco spokesman said, “We were concerned to learn of this issue and have investigated thoroughly with our supplier. 

“Both we and our suppliers have robust measures in place to prevent incidents such as this, and our salad leaves go through complex filtering and washing systems.

“We have been in contact with our customer to reassure them how seriously we have taken this matter, and offered them a gesture of goodwill.”

But Mr Watson said, “I want to know how it happened. I would really like someone from Tesco to sit down and explain me how an animal so large got into a bag of salad not so large.”

Newborn mice found in chips at UK supermarket; it’s OK, we’re near a canal

A Birmingham mum went wild in the aisles – when newborn mice burst out of crisp packets in a busy supermarket.

Stunned shopper Liz Wray was horrified when she saw half a dozen pink mice emerge from multipacks of crisps at a new Tesco store in Aston Lane, Aston.

The mum-of-one snapped pictures of the mice on her phone (right) and confronted the store manager but said she was horrified Tesco bosses decided not to shut the store down.

“All the staff did was put a cardboard box over the mice and closed aisle six,” said Liz, a health visitor from Kings Norton. “I was with a work colleague who reached out towards the crisps and started screaming.

“Suddenly these tiny pink things appeared from the multipacks and were lying in front of us.

“They were repulsive and made me feel revolting. There were half a dozen of them crawling out of different holes in the crisps and we couldn’t believe our eyes. …

“When I told the store manager, he said ‘We can’t do much about it because we are near a canal and railway track and the mice tend to come through the floor.’”

Michelle Mazur: Punching the clock to go poop at work

Pooping is a natural phenomenon, but what happens when you have to go at work?  I was quite surprised that many people on the Internet seem to have strong options about this issue.  For example, a humorous email forward has been circulating around the Internet for a few years concerning how to poop at work.  There are also quite a few YouTube opinions about the issue.

No matter what method or etiquette is used, it simply must be done during the workday.  That leaves many wondering, how much time and money is spent doing your business in the bathroom?  Workpoop.com is a website that offers a handy calculator to help calculate a person’s annual earnings from pooping at work.

But not everyone is on board with being paid to poop.  Recently, Brown Brothers, a meat company based in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, has received quite a bit of bad press about their new bathroom policy.  The meat company supplying Tesco has been accused of "Dickensian employment practices" by making workers clock off when they go the toilet.

The Unite union is now calling on Tesco to intervene to stamp out the practice at Brown Brothers.  The company insists anyone wanting to be excused from the system has to provide medical evidence, the union added.

BBC reports the policy was part of a special pay deal agreed with workers and unions to ensure production ran smoothly. Staff received extra money as part of the pay deal which was aimed at focusing toilet breaks at set times of the day.

But employees are less than thrilled.  “We have to clock out, take off our wellies, overalls and hairnets, we have to run up stairs, have to come back in get dressed again,” one employee told the BBC.

One organization seems to be doing the exact opposite; they’ll pay people to poop.  The Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College held an event last fall entitled the “Low on Cash, High in Fiber Bash.”  Participants earned 25 cents for every time they “donated” to the cause.

Paid to poop or otherwise, wash your hands.