Eyes on safety

Butchers need to ensure their food safety is first-rate, following the outcome of the recent inquiry into the South Wales E.coli outbreak.

Professor Hugh Pennington, who conducted the inquiry, urged all food businesses to take note of the report and “get to grips” with food safety. The 2005 outbreak, which was traced back to butcher William Tudor, of John Tudor & Sons in Bridgend, South Wales, claimed the life of five-year-old Mason Jones.

Announcing the outcome of his year-long inquiry into the outbreak recently, Pennington said there were serious and repeated breaches of food safety regulations at Tudor’s premises, and that the butcher had “falsified certain records that were an important part of food safety practice”. He expressed disappointment that little seemed to have been learnt from the 1997 outbreak in Scotland, following which he made a number of recommendations, one of which was the introduction of a Butchers’ Licensing Scheme.

“The food safety requirements that were in place at the time of the outbreak had been reformed in the years before it. They were relatively modern. This makes the fact that the outbreak occurred particularly shocking,” he said. And he made a number of recommendations, including:

  • All food businesses must ensure their procedures are capable of preventing the contamination or cross-contamination of food with E.coli O157
  • The principles underpinning the Butchers’ Licensing Scheme, which was introduced in response to the 1996 E.coli outbreak, should guide food hygiene measures in businesses processing raw meat and unwrapped ready-to-eat food.

National Federation of Meat & Food Traders chief executive Graham Bidston said the recommendations reinforced the fact that butchers had to comply with existing regulations. He said there were no new legal requirements for butchers and pointed out that most retailers were fully compliant with the existing regulations.

Douglas Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders’ Association, said: “The report reflects that fact that standards must be upheld; things cannot be allowed to slip.”

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