FSA E.coli guidance "draconian"

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) new guidance aimed at controlling the risks from E.coli have been branded “draconian” by butchery bosses.

The FSA issued the new guidance following two serious outbreaks of E.coli in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005 – which resulted in serious illness and deaths.

It also comes after the Pennington Report in 2009 into the outbreak in Wales, which saw 150 people affected, 31 people hospitalised and led to the death of five-year-old Mason Jones.

However, Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders (NFMFT), labelled the new guidelines as “draconian” and said his organisation had been disappointed with the consultation process ahead of their publication.

Kelsey told Meat Trades Journal: “The actual report and the implications of the recommendations are draconian. It covers areas that can be addressed by adequate HACCP procedures.”

Some of the key measures highlighted in the guidance to control E.coli are:

•    Identification of separate work areas, surfaces and equipment for raw and ready-to-eat food.

•    Use of separate complex equipment, such as vacuum-packing machines, slicers, and mincers for raw and ready-to-eat food.

•    Handwashing should be carried out using a recognised technique. Anti-bacterial gels must not be used instead of thorough handwashing.

•    Disinfectants and sanitisers must meet officially recognised standards and should be used as instructed by the manufacturer.

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