Caterers must be better trained to protect customers

28/08/2008 - 00:00
A food safety specialist is calling for improved focus on training and management systems in the catering and hospitality industries following the recent salmonella outbreak from a food manufacturing site in County Kildare, Ireland from which one person has died and more than 120 have fallen ill.

Geoff Ward, food safety specialist at National Britannia, A Connaught Group Company, said: "This recent outbreak has spread rapidly through the food chain. As the apparent source is a producer of fillings for pre-packed sandwiches, the contamination has spread to a number of canteens, retail outlets and other food outlets across the UK. "Most worryingly in this case is that the contamination appears to have slipped through all the HACCP safety systems in place at the manufacturer. This suggests that despite the new laws and systems in place to protect against food contamination, food producers are still making fatal errors. "It is clear that the laws and regulations are not proving effective and what is really needed is improved education for those working at the highest levels within the industry. "You only have to look at the case of Cadbury, who received massive fines and were involved in a £40million product recall when they caused a salmonella outbreak in 2006, but yet companies still do not appear to be learning from cases such as this. "An important factor in reducing food contamination outbreaks is to employ a fresh pair of eyes to assess the food safety risks. While in-house specialists can keep a site safe on a day-to-day basis, they are often blinkered by costs and should not dismiss the value of the services of an external consultant." Geoff Ward qualified as an Environmental Health Officer for Manchester City Council before joining Trusthouse Forte as Regional Hygiene and Safety Manager. In 1988 he established Hygiene Monitoring Services, the largest consultancy providing food, safety and fire consultancy support to the hotel, catering and leisure industry. In 2007 HMS was bought by the National Britannia Group, one of the UK's largest providers of safety, health and environmental risk management services and a Connaught Group company.. For further information visit www.natbrit.com

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