Food borne illnesses caused by an outbreak of E.Coli can and does happen from time to time. Adopting good food safety and hygiene practices in the workplace by following food safety legislation and providing appropriate food safety training is a ideal way to prevent these illnesses from occurring.
On February 8, 2016, Chipotle, the American burrito institution, closed its doors nationwide for four hours. The reason for the mass closure was a major, in-depth meeting for all staff regarding food safety and hygiene, following a 6-month long E. Coli outbreak across its U.S. stores that made over 60 people in 14 states ill. The contaminating source was never able to be identified.
A similar case occurred in late 2015, when the diet company, Scottish Slimmers, found themselves in the middle of an E. Coli outbreak in Scotland – due to tainted venison from one of their providers. The meat was traced from 9 different people who fell ill.
And Salisbury’s Back in 2013, also had an E.Coli outbreak in which 15 people fell ill. The culprit in this case was some lowly watercress.
E. Coli lives in humans usually, but is only dangerous in specific strains – like those in the outbreaks mentioned above. These can cause fever, diarrhoea, and stomach pains, and in more serious cases it can lead to kidney failure and even death. Children, the sick, and the elderly are most at risk of contracting the illness.
The cause of this food borne illness caused by the E. Coli bacteria is due to food contamination from improper food handling techniques.
As the bacteria can live in animals as well as humans, if the bacteria get into either the meat supply or produce that is near to animal farms it can become a deadly part of the food supply. E. Coli can also be present in raw milk (along with a range of other dangerous bacteria) – which is why it needs to be pasteurised before human consumption.
E. Coli is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to food borne illnesses. Here are the other most common illnesses that humans can get from contaminated food:
Causes gastrointestinal problems, which may become severe, and can occur in deli meats and soft cheeses.
Causes gastroenteritis and is caused by eating raw foods, using contaminated water, or shellfish that come from contaminated water.
Can cause flu like symptoms, jaundice, and diarrhoea, among others, and is caused by the same sources as norovirus.
Causes fever, diarrhoea, and vomiting and can be caused by eating eggs, meat, cheese, and poultry, and fresh produce that has been contaminated with the salmonella bacteria.
Can cause diarrhoea, weight loss, vomiting, tiredness, etc. and is caused by eating certain types of fresh produce contaminated with feces.
May cause diarrhoea and vomiting, along with associated symptoms and is caused by under cooked poultry or other food contaminated from raw poultry.
The food safety and sanitation guidelines are those which people need to follow to avoid any of the illnesses listed above. Food safety guidelines need to be followed by everyone – from home chefs to, more importantly, those who serve food to the general public.
And these guidelines need to be followed at all steps in the food preparation process – from the beginning of the cycle in abattoirs, dairies, breweries, food factories and food manufacturing plants, through to school canteen workers, hospitals, delivery drivers, servers and check out staff. Everyone who is involved with the production, transport, cooking, and delivery of food needs to be aware of food hygiene and safety procedures at their level.
Depending on which part of the process they are in involved in, this will involve things such as correct hand washing techniques, using clean materials each time, ensuring dairy products are always refrigerated, keeping food temperature monitored, food reheating issues, and so on.
The food safety laws in the UK are covered by the Food Standards Act 1999 (aka food safety act), as well as European food legislation, and general food law. Noncompliance to food hygiene standards may see fines issued and workplaces shut down.
The best way to ensure that your staff are up to date with their food safety information and food safety procedures is to start them off with an online tutor-led Food Hygiene and Safety Training.
With Howlett Health and Safety Services, you can choose from courses that are for those employees that are actively involved in food preparation or those that are part of the transport process. We provide tailored training for the catering, manufacturing, and retail sectors, so you can be sure that your staff get the most useful information for their role.
If you require any help or advice with any aspect of health and safety do get in touch. We also have a no obligation 15 minute consultation.