Which foods pose the biggest risk of poisoning?

Food poisoning is a particularly unpleasant experience for anyone and if you have suffered from it you will have instantly wanted to know the specific cause. Often it is not due to that takeaway you ate last night, indeed a lot of food poisoning can take a number of days or weeks to take effect.

The spokeswoman for Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Lorraine Belanger, described how easily it can occur. She said: “People think of chicken as the number one suspect but actually things like salads and cut fruit, if handled in the wrong way or exposed to wrong things, can cause major foodborne outbreaks.”

The Food Safety Information Council’s executive officer Juliana Madden added: “Some of the largest food safety issues that have popped up in the last few years have been things like baby spinach and tomatoes.”

It is possible for eggs to carry salmonella although cooking them thoroughly will kill bacteria. Listeria can be found in deli meats and turkey, chicken and duck can carry campylobacter and salmonella. E. coli can contaminate sprouts and it is possible for listeria to grow on the skin of cantaloupes. Additionally, raw vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and celery can carry E. coli and salmonella and rice can be contaminated with Bacillus cereus.

Woman’s body found in Wirral house fire

An unidentified woman has been found dead in a house fire in Merseyside, it has been confirmed. Firefighters were called to a home on Village Road in the Higher Bebington area of the Wirral on Sunday evening. After arriving at the property at around 17:50 GMT fire crews extinguished the blaze inside. A smoke alarm had been triggered at the house but firefighters discovered the body of a woman in the lounge.

A fire service spokesman said: “Firefighters on arrival saw the smoke was coming from another property and entered that property and extinguished a fire.

“Sadly, during a search of the property, the body of an adult woman was found. Merseyside Police has been informed along with our incident investigation team.
“Smoke alarms were present and activated in the property where the fire took place.”

A police spokesman stated that the woman was believed to be in her 40s and a significant part of the road has been sealed off while an investigation takes place. This investigation will be carried out by Merseyside fire services and police and enquiries have been made to determine the identity of the woman and her next of kin.

Call to test alcohol misuse at work

A campaign group which targets a reduction in alcohol misuse has asked for workplaces to monitor their employees’ levels of drinking. The Alcohol Health Network has called for workers to be required to take a test as standard which will determine if they are a ‘risky drinker’ or not.

Don Shenker is the founder and director of the group and he wants to see problems stamped out before they have a chance to develop. He said: “Offering staff confidential use of the ‘alcohol use disorders identification test’ and brief advice as a self-awareness initiative at work, whether through face to face interactions or leaflets, may well help prevent problems with alcohol at an earlier stage.

“In this way, staff who may be concerned about their drinking or whose level of drinking is not yet apparent to them, can assess the risks their drinking poses to their health and take appropriate action.

“Reducing hazardous drinking also reduces the risk of dependent drinking occurring.”

One of the biggest other reasons behind this suggestion is so workplaces can avoid the added cost of employee sickness through alcohol. Alcohol abuse remains a major problem in the UK as roughly 9 per cent of men and 4 per cent of women display signs they are dependent on alcohol.

Food hygiene criticism for BA Heathrow lounge

British Airways’ standards of food hygiene in their first-class Heathrow lounge have been criticised in an inspection report. BaxterStorey, who provide the catering for the airport, have been given less than favourable reviews in the past and were given a ‘poor’ rating for their lounge as well as the Concorde Room in terminal five.

The report was put together by Hillingdon Council who used the phrase ‘major non-compliance with statutory obligations’ when highlighting the aforementioned Concorde Room. The luxury surroundings were given a score of just two out of five and boiled eggs found were said to be past the use-by date.

Additionally, one kitchen employee was seen working in the area having prepared raw salmon without washing his hands or removing his gloves. Scrambled eggs and sausages were reportedly being stored 13° lower than they were supposed to be. There were also sandwiches that were not chilled and an unclean food chiller and ice machine.

The report stated: “These types of food are likely to support the growth of food poisoning bacteria or the formation of toxins.”
Heathrow can however boast high ratings for other airlines’ lounges on its premises such as the Upper Class Clubhouse from Virgin Atlantic.

Hospital could face cancer care investigation

Allegations from hospital trust staff about being forced to change cancer patients’ data could result in a police investigation.
Employees at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust told inspectors that they had been pressured into altering data concerning patients and the treatment they were receiving. This was to make it appear as if patients were being treated in accordance with national guidelines.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that a number of cancer patients had to deal with ‘undue delays’ and the data related to the waiting time for treatment showed ‘inaccuracies’. The findings have since been passed on to Essex Police who have confirmed they have been informed by the CQC and are looking over the information. It will then be decided whether a criminal investigation should be launched.

During the CQC’s inspections in August and September they found that 22 of the 61 care records they looked at showed patients had been put at risk of unsafe or ineffective care thanks to appointment or treatment delays. Despite an internal investigation in 2012 which raised concerns the hospital bosses did not give thorough attention to the allegations or do a follow-up with the patients affected.

Austerity leaves hospitals the only option for constant care

The effects of austerity have led to hospitals being the only places capable of providing round-the-clock care for elderly people according to a senior NHS official.

Public spending cuts are a major concern and the NHS had a higher number of elderly patients in need of urgent care than they had expected last winter. According to the NHS Wales’ deputy chief executive Kevin Flynn the cuts have rendered the social care system unworkable.

Flynn voiced his belief that the deep-rooted problems in the set-up and the reduced spending have created a situation in which vital and thorough care for the elderly in a residential home or in their own home is difficult to ensure.

He said: “The difficulty is that with austerity across everywhere at the moment inevitably the only system that will take them, that is 24/7, is the ambulance and hospital system.

“So it’s a systematic problem of where these people end up. At any point prior to that, within various systems, we could have probably intervened to the stage where they didn’t get to hospital.

“The challenge of unscheduled care is how do we ensure that those things are happening, and it’s not just a health issue, it’s a social issue – how do we look after neighbours and so on?”

Health and safety illnesses and deaths – the facts (Part Three)

When the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) studied the facts and figures relating to work-related illnesses and deaths they also looked at the geographical details. Examining the rate per 100,000 employees in the North East, it was found that 4.6 per cent of these workers have suffered from ill-health during the last year.

This indicated that the North East was the most dangerous area of the country in which to work. Comparatively, only 2.9 per cent of workers in London have been in ill-health in the past 12 months. It wasn’t all bad news for those in the North East as this part of England had the lowest amount of fatal work-related injuries (2). The South East and Scotland had the highest number with 22.

Throughout each year it is expected to a certain extent that some members of staff will miss work through illness. However, in 2011/12 there were as many as 22.7million working days lost as a result of this and a further 4.3million due to injuries suffered in the workplace. Workplace injuries and illness are said to cost society around £13.8billion – £2.8billion to employers, £3billion to the Government and £7.9billion to individuals.

Health and safety illnesses and deaths – the facts (Part Two)

The figures may not be overly alarming when it comes to people dying while at work but there is a high number who suffer from ultimately fatal work-related diseases. There are 13,000 deaths per year that can be attributed to conditions picked up at work and occupational cancers account for a significant proportion of these fatalities.

It is common for such illnesses to build up over a number of years but the conditions of someone’s former workplace can be a major contributory factor. Among the work-related diseases cited as the most fatal are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (from gases, dust, fumes and vapours), lung cancer (from mineral oils, diesel engine exhausts, silica and asbestos) and mesothelioma (from asbestos).

Asbestos is certainly a huge cause of deaths related to working conditions and there have been around 5000 of these in the last year and the number is expected to rise further still. Health and safety is of major importance for workplaces and the past year has seen 706 prosecutions for breaches of this. The fines for these offences amounted to £15million and 95 per cent of the cases led to a conviction.

Health and safety illnesses and deaths – the facts (Part One)

It has been revealed that 1.1million people in Britain encounter an illness related to their work and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is said to be the most fatal. There were 148 people killed at work during the past year and that works out as 0.5 deaths for every 100,000 employees.

The findings of the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) study indicated that industrial jobs were the most dangerous. There were 39 fatalities in construction, 29 in agriculture and 10 in waste and there was some interesting news for those in self-employment. For every 100,000 workers, individuals who work for themselves are at twice the risk of being killed due to an accident at work. A positive angle of the statistics showed that work-related fatalities have been halved when compared to 20 years ago.

Naturally, there is a far greater likelihood of suffering an injury at work that is not fatal and 78,222 of these instances were reported in the last year. This means that there is a 1 in 320 chance of getting injured at work and the most common causes are falls from a height, slips or trips.

Hygiene improvement called for at supermarket

A hygiene inspection at a supermarket in Burton, Staffordshire revealed a range of potentially dangerous health issues it has been revealed.

Based in the nearby village of Branston, the Morrisons store was examined at all levels by inspectors including the kitchens, bakery, salad bar and cake shop. One employee was seen leaving the raw production area having not washed their hands and food trays were stored on the floor beside bins.

Bags of rubbish were left piled up on top of sinks and members of staff were seen opening packages on the floor. Inspectors stated that employees did not know how many cleaning chemicals were being used and a box was found containing contaminated disposable gloves.

When inspectors asked to see documents regarding the food management systems in the store they could not be provided. Additionally, a handwash basin in the cake shop was blocked by a bag of rubbish and boxes and the store unsurprisingly scored worst in the hygiene aspect of the overall inspection.

Ten out of a possible 30 hazard points were awarded for the food and hygiene safety but the store was still given a ‘good’ overall rating.