It’s been 10 years since we were in Cardiff and my father’s home of Newport, Wales, and I felt strangely at home, but maybe it was the universal speak of food safety.
A cockroach infestation was discovered in the kitchen of a Cardiff takeaway by inspectors after the owner ignored a request to deep clean the restaurant.
Flame Grillhouse, in Clare Road, Riverside, was visited by food hygiene officers from Cardiff Council where they found dead and live cockroaches in the kitchen, preparation area and front service area.
Owner Mohammed Hussain was told by pest control contractors to close his business for the building to be deep cleaned but he failed to carry out the request and carried on trading.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday heard customers could have been at risk of salmonella, E. coli, and typhoid fever as a result of the infestation.
Prosecutor Nik Strobl said the business had initially been given a one star hygiene rating which had been upgraded to a three star rating in 2018.
Describing the incriminating inspection, the barrister said: “There was evidence of full life cycle cockroach infestation at the business. There were live and dead cockroaches found at various stages of maturity.”
He added that despite being told about the problem, Hussain failed to undertake cleaning of his business and continued to serve food in spite of the infestation.
After the discovery, the defendant agreed to voluntarily close the restaurant and on September 3, another inspection was carried which satisfied the officers the infestation had been eradicated.
The restaurant reopened on September and currently has a four star hygiene rating as of November 6, 2019.
Defence barrister William Bebb said his client fully accepted his culpability for the infestation and wished to apologise to the court.
Sentencing, Judge Niclas Parry said: “There would have been a serious risk of public health. Salmonella, E. coli and typhoid fever can all be caused when cockroaches and human consumption cross paths.
“The matter is aggravated by you paying lip service to your obligations and you ignoring more than one warning. You were aware there was an issue but you let it fester.”
Hussain was sentenced to four months imprisonment suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work and to pay £750 in costs.
I’m sorry I missed this story in Wales Online from Sept. 13, 2020, as I was doing my own recovering.
Cathy Owen writes that Sharon Jeffreys dreads this time of year.
As children return for the start of the school year, she relives what happened to her family 15 years ago over and over, and over again.
It was only two weeks into the start of the school year at Deri Primary in 2005 when her eldest son Chandler came home with stomach pains and the beginning of a nightmare for the young family.
Chandler had contracted E. coli O157 after eating contaminated food that had been supplied to the school by a local butcher.
But worse was to come after his younger brother Mason also became ill with the food poisoning.
The five-year-old had only just switched from taking packed lunches to having school dinners because he was so fond of chips and sausages.
“It was the worse decision I ever made,” says Sharon. “Mason loved his food. He was taking sausages and chips off the plates of children, so we decided to switch him to school dinners and he was really happy.”
Mason and eight-year-old Chandler were one of more than 150 schoolchildren and adults struck down in the south Wales outbreak. Thirty-one people were admitted to hospital, but Mason was the only one to die.
He had suffered high temperatures, stomach pains and had hallucinations and was admitted to Bristol children’s hospital, but died of kidney failure.
Today, his mum Sharon remembers every moment of those terrifying days.
“It will be 15 years on September 13 when Chandler first became ill,” she remembers. “When Mason started to be sick I tried to do everything I possibly could. Mason’s condition deteriorated considerably and he started to hallucinate saying he could see slugs and frogs.
“He went a yellow colour and started sweating like he’d just come out of a shower. Mason died two weeks later in unbearable pain.”
Reflecting on the amount of time that has passed, Sharon says: “I just can’t believe how long it has been, it feels like such a long time since I last saw him.
“It is still very difficult to think about, but at this time of year I always relive that awful time. I always dread September coming along because it takes me back there.
“I will never get over it, but I have had to learn how to live with it, but little things can take me back there. Like I see a blade of grass, or hear something and it takes me back with a jolt.
“After Mason died it was really busy, there was the inquest and then the legal proceedings, so I didn’t actually face what had happened for a long time, and then it went quiet and it was like trying to scramble out of a big black hole.
“Mason would have been 21 in December. He should have been looking forward to celebrating that milestone in his life.
“Chandler is 23 now, but he is not the same person. He and Mason were so close, it has left a big hole in his life.
“My younger son is 16 and it has affected his life too. He can’t remember Mason because he wasn’t even one at the time, and that upsets him.”
Fifteen years on and Sharon and her family still feel that they have been denied justice.
Bridgend butcher William Tudor, 56, was jailed for breaching hygiene laws by allowing raw meat to come into contact with cooked ham and turkey.
It was claimed he bought cheap frozen New Zealand mutton and passed it off as prime Welsh lamb and staff who brought him rotten meat unfit for consumption were told to “mince it up” and use it in faggots.
Sharon went on to immerse herself in other food safety issues, including a push to make restaurant inspection disclosure – scores on doors – mandatory in Wales. Voluntary disclosure misses the point and if large cities like Toronto, New York and Los Angeles can figure out how to make it mandatory so can Wales.
Disclosure became mandatory in Wales and Northern Ireland in Nov. 2013, thanks in part – or largely — to Sharon’s efforts.
The rest of the UK, and Australia, wallows in a voluntary system: lousy score, don’t post it.
“The food hygiene rating scheme is very important and it is good that more people are more aware after what happened,” says Sharon.
“It is a bit concerning to hear that Covid might have an impact on some council environmental services, but we need to make sure there are more officers carrying out inspections and making sure that best practice is being followed.
“I have heard back from people that they have used our story as part of their training for cooks and kitchen staff.
“Before Mason’s death I had never really heard of E. coli. I had heard the name, but didn’t know much about it.
“Now, I think people are definitely more aware. That is good to know, good to know that people haven’t forgotten, even after all these years.”
Cathy Owen of Wales Online writes a dad-of-three has been left paralysed after developing suspected food poisoning on a dream holiday to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.
William Marsh, from Mountain Ash, was in a coma for 10 weeks and spent seven months in hospital after becoming ill on a holiday to the Dominican Republic with his wife Kathyrn two years ago.
The 57-year-old has been diagnosed with the rare condition Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious neurological condition which is a known complication from food poisoning.
He has now called on specialist serious injury lawyers to investigate his “devastating” ordeal.
William started suffering from stomach cramps and diarrhoea towards the end of a week-long all-inclusive at the Riu Naiboa resort which was booked to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.
When he got back home to Wales, the symptoms continued and on the day he was due to return to work as an engineer he woke up to find he had no feeling in his legs.
That sensation then started to spread across his entire body and William was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome.
William said: “Kathryn and my daughter fell ill first and then it hit me. The symptoms were awful but we just tried to push through it. I needed to get myself to work, so I thought nothing of it really.
“But then I got a huge shock when I woke up one morning and couldn’t feel my legs.”
William was on a ventilator in Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and after a long period of treatment he was able to return home. But his life has now changed massively.
Almost two years on from his diagnosis, the father-of-three still cannot walk and is essentially confined to his living room due to the extent of his needs. He has been unable to return to work.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune condition affecting the peripheral nervous system.
Often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection such as flu or food poisoning, it causes the nerves in the arms and legs to become inflamed and stop working, usually leading to temporary paralysis which may last from a few days to many months.
An estimated 1,300 people (one to two people per 100,000) are affected by GBS annually in the UK. About 80 per cent will make a good recovery, but between five and 10 per cent of people will not survive and 10-15 per cent may experience long term residual effects ranging from limited mobility or dexterity, to life-long dependency on a wheelchair.
I am fascinated with viruses, and we’re all hosts on a viral planet.
We used whole-genome sequencing to investigate the evolutionary context of an emerging highly pathogenic strain of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 in England and Wales.
A timed phylogeny of sublineage IIb revealed that the emerging clone evolved from a STEC O157:H7 stx-negative ancestor ≈10 years ago after acquisition of a bacteriophage encoding Shiga toxin (stx) 2a, which in turn had evolved from a stx2c progenitor ≈20 years ago. Infection with the stx2a clone was a significant risk factor for bloody diarrhea (OR 4.61, 95% CI 2.24–9.48; p<0.001), compared with infection with other strains within sublineage IIb. Clinical symptoms of cases infected with sublineage IIb stx2c and stx-negative clones were comparable, despite the loss of stx2c. Our analysis highlighted the highly dynamic nature of STEC O157:H7 Stx-encoding bacteriophages and revealed the evolutionary history of a highly pathogenic clone emerging within sublineage IIb, a sublineage not previously associated with severe clinical symptoms.
Highly pathogenic clone of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7, England and Wales, December 2018
Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 24 no. 12
Lisa Byrne, Timothy Dallman, Natalie Adams, Amy Mikhail, Noel McCarthy, and Claire Jenkins
Bernard Watkins worked as a biomedical scientist in the microbiology department at Cwm Taf University Health Board.
After he was handed day shifts, instead of his preferred night shifts, he went into a freezer at work and took a patient sample which had tested positive for salmonella before using a computer at work to check a patient’s confidential details and make sure they had the disease.
But days later he confessed all to one of his bosses – admitting he had “spiked” his sample.
Mr Watkins was due to appear before a conduct and competence panel of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for allegations of dishonesty, misconduct and whether his fitness to practise has been impaired, but the hearing was held in his absence.
The panel heard on Thursday how on October 10, 2016, Mr Watkins, who had 20 years service at the time, told his bosses he was unable to come into work as he feeling unwell and suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting.
He left a fecal sample in the office on the same date.
Two days later, on October 12, he called his employers to say he wouldn’t be working for the rest of the week as he remained unwell.
The same day the fecal sample tested positive for salmonella.
One of his bosses, Kelly Ward, the manager for Microbiology, phoned Mr Watkins and asked him to submit another fecal sample signed by his GP.
On October 13 Mr Watkins explained to Mrs Ward he had been to his GP and provided the sample. But the sample tested negative for salmonella.
On October 17 Mr Watkins returned to work and Mrs Ward completed a return to work form. She discussed concerns with him going off work when he was required to work day shifts instead of his preferred night shifts.
But just two days later, as Mr Watkins was finishing a night shift which ended at 8am, he called Mrs Ward and asked to meet her when she got into work.
He told her he “deliberately contaminated” a sample of a patient who had salmonella with his own feces by adding in his own fecal matter, saying his employer would have “found out anyway”.
Erdozain G, Kukanich K, Chapman B, Powell D. 2012. Observation of public health risk behaviours, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011. Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01531.x. [Epub ahead of print]
Observation of public health risk behaviors, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011Outbreaks of human illness have been linked to visiting settings with animal contact throughout developed countries. This paper details an observational study of hand hygiene tool availability and recommendations; frequency of risky behavior; and, handwashing attempts by visitors in Kansas (9) and Missouri (4), U.S., petting zoos. Handwashing signs and hand hygiene stations were available at the exit of animal-contact areas in 10/13 and 8/13 petting zoos respectively. Risky behaviors were observed being performed at all petting zoos by at least one visitor. Frequently observed behaviors were: children (10/13 petting zoos) and adults (9/13 petting zoos) touching hands to face within animal-contact areas; animals licking children’s and adults’ hands (7/13 and 4/13 petting zoos, respectively); and children and adults drinking within animal-contact areas (5/13 petting zoos each). Of 574 visitors observed for hand hygiene when exiting animal-contact areas, 37% (n=214) of individuals attempted some type of hand hygiene, with male adults, female adults, and children attempting at similar rates (32%, 40%, and 37% respectively). Visitors were 4.8x more likely to wash their hands when a staff member was present within or at the exit to the animal-contact area (136/231, 59%) than when no staff member was present (78/343, 23%; p<0.001, OR=4.863, 95% C.I.=3.380-6.998). Visitors at zoos with a fence as a partial barrier to human-animal contact were 2.3x more likely to wash their hands (188/460, 40.9%) than visitors allowed to enter the animals’ yard for contact (26/114, 22.8%; p<0.001, OR= 2.339, 95% CI= 1.454-3.763). Inconsistencies existed in tool availability, signage, and supervision of animal-contact. Risk communication was poor, with few petting zoos outlining risks associated with animal-contact, or providing recommendations for precautions to be taken to reduce these risks.
Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions
Zoonoses and Public Health
G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman and D. Powell
Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.
Scientists at Cardiff University hope to create a “super mead” using a mixture of herbs that can tackle salmonella.
“We’re actually running out of antibiotics now, so it’s imperative that we identify new products that are active against these bacteria, especially the likes of salmonella and e-coli which are causing problems all over the country and indeed the world…”
– Dr James Blaxland, Cardiff University
The scientists have been trying to work out how to make a so-called ‘super honey’.
They’ve found with a mix of herbs that together can fight bacteria like salmonella.
“Back in the sixteenth century, there was a Welsh drink called metheglin. Metheglin translates into ‘healing liquor’.
Basically, it’s mead… alcoholic mead that we drink… combined with medicinal herbs.
What we are trying to do is identify those medicinal herbs that we could add to the mead to make a drink that was antibacterial.”
– Prof Les Baillie, Cardiff University
They hope combining Welsh history with science being done in Wales could lead to new and effective drugs.
In future outbreaks proactive media engagement without naming the premises should be avoided.
On the 27th May 2015 the Shared Regulatory Services Communicable Disease Team (Cardiff) identified two cases of Campylobacter (one in Cardiff and the other in the Vale of Glamorgan) that were linked to the same premises (Premises A) in Cardiff.
This triggered an immediate investigation and an Outbreak Control Team was subsequently convened, declaring a formal outbreak on 4th June 2015.
In total there were 33 cases meeting the case definition of which 11 were microbiologically confirmed as Campylobacter jejuni. No cases were hospitalised. 24 cases ate at Premises A on 17th May. Of the remaining cases, seven ate on 16th May and one on 18th May. The final case ate on 7th June.
Repeated environmental visits were undertaken and issues that could potentially lead to cross contamination were identified. Premises A voluntarily closed on 4th June to address these issues and reopened on 6th June.
Of the 33 cases, 31 participated in a case control study. These all ate between the 16th and 18th May. The study revealed that 100% (31) of included cases had eaten from the salad bar compared to 84.9% (45/53) controls (p=0.024). In addition, 30 of 31 cases (96.8%) had eaten pasta salad from the salad bar, compared with 22/50 controls (44%) (odds ratio 38; 95% CI 5.3–1611). Adjustment for other exposures using logistic regression did not materially change the association with eating pasta salad. A similar but independent association with eating noodles from the salad bar was also identified but few of the cases (6/31) had consumed noodles.
Environmental investigation found areas of non compliance with statutory food hygiene regulations and confirmed that several poor food hygiene practices had been identified that potentially could result in pasta salad cross-contamination within the kitchen area.
It was therefore concluded that eating pasta salad from the salad bar between 16th and 18th May 2015 was significantly associated with acquiring Campylobacter infection in this outbreak, and that for the small number of individuals who ate noodles this may have been independently associated with acquiring Campylobacter infection. The identification of non-meat items (often salad) in Campylobacter outbreaks is a reoccurring theme.
Ensuring good food hygiene is always the sole responsibility of the Food Business Operator. Nevertheless, it is important to note that this outbreak identified several issues which have implications more widely.
Issues with the interpretation and implementation by the food business of the Food Standards Agency E. coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance (revised December 2014).
Issues relating to the Primary Authority’s response in outbreak situations (relevant to Food Business Operators with multiple outlets).
The specific points of concern are explained in the discussion section of this report.
Related to these issues, investigations highlighted three matters which may have implications for other high throughput food businesses. These were:
Not using physical separation as the primary control measure to prevent cross-contamination.
An over reliance on two-stage cleaning as a control measure which may fail during busy periods.
The need to design out (as much as possible) any potential for human error resulting in cross-contamination.
Following this outbreak, improvements with respect to these three matters have been implemented in Premises A and all other similar premises nationally that are under the same ownership.
The outbreak was declared over on 25th August 2015.
There were 33 cases of Campylobacter associated with this outbreak. Eleven were microbiologically confirmed.
This had the features of a point source outbreak. All but one case ate at Premises A on the weekend 16-18th May. The final confirmed case ate at the premises on 7th June.
Epidemiological and environmental investigation identified cross-contamination of the pasta salad as the most likely source of the outbreak for the cases on 16-18th May. No source was identified for the case on 7th June.
Environmental investigation found areas of non compliance with statutory Food Hygiene Regulations and confirmed that several poor food hygiene practices had been identified that potentially could result in pasta salad cross-contamination within the kitchen area.
The interpretation and application of the December 2014 revised version of the Food Standards Agency E. coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance by the Food Business Operator of Premises A resulted in the business not using physical separation as the primary control measure to prevent cross-contamination. This and over reliance on two-stage cleaning as a control measure was potentially not effective in preventing cross-contamination. This guidance was then used by the Food Business Operator to defend such arrangements and structural layouts as being in line with the recommendation of this guidance.
Implementation of some control measures in this outbreak were delayed by involvement of the Primary Authority.
Being unable to interview food handlers involved in this outbreak at an early stage in a structured format away from Premises A hampered outbreak investigation and control.
Issuing a proactive press release without naming the premises resulted in this decision becoming the media focus rather than the outbreak.
The Food Standards Agency E. coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance (revised December 2014) should be reviewed in light of the issues identified in this outbreak.
The Food Standards Agency should work with the Better Regulation Delivery Office to develop advice for Primary Authorities on providing timely and effective responses to outbreak investigations.
Proactive follow-up for example via telephone of all confirmed Campylobacter cases in Wales should be routine practice by all Local Authorities. This supports early detection of outbreaks, the application of control measures to be timely and prompt hygiene advice to be given to cases.
Local Authorities should ensure that they retain sufficient Environmental Health staff with Food Safety and Communicable Disease skills to be able to proactively follow up communicable disease cases and investigate suspected outbreaks.
Although direct poultry contact or consumption is known to be the most common source for Campylobacter infection in humans, the Food Standards Agency Campylobacter Reduction Strategy should note for consideration that outbreaks in Wales have also been linked to non meat products such as salads. This could of course in some cases represent cross contamination but they may wish to consider looking at the body of evidence from such outbreaks across the United Kingdom to inform the Strategy going forward.
The use of ‘Requests for Co-operation’ under health protection legislation should be considered early in outbreak investigations in order to effectively interview food handlers.
In future outbreaks proactive media engagement without naming the premises should be avoided.