1. FSA latest public attitudes survey focus on food hygiene rating schemes
In the latest biannual tracker survey (November ’11), three new questions were asked to measure people’s awareness of local authority food hygiene schemes.
The results show that 19% of respondents had seen or heard about this type of scheme. When prompted, 21% of respondents reported that they had seen or heard about the ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’, 12% had seen or heard about ‘Scores on the Doors’ and 10% had seen or heard about the ‘Food Hygiene Information Scheme’.
Full survey results available at: http://www.food.gov.uk/science/socsci/surveys/publictrackingsurvey
2. UK FSA researches consumer views on ‘Earned Recognition’ approaches
A new report published by the FSA shows that consumers are broadly in favour of reducing inspections on compliant businesses so that resources can be focused on those which are higher risk.
Under the proposed ‘Earned Recognition’ scheme, food businesses that are able to demonstrate a history of good compliance with the legislation, or that are members of a private assurance scheme, would receive a lighter regulatory touch in terms of the number and type of official inspections.
The proposed changes will help to ensure consumer safety by concentrating resources where improvement is most needed, for example on businesses that are less compliant or higher risk.
The full report can be found at: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/earnedrecog.pdf
3. UK meat industry experts question cancer study links with processed meat consumption
A Swedish review study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, has reported associations between high intakes of bacon and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
Meat industry scientific experts have expressed reservations on the results of the research which compiled the results of 11 different papers, and found that consuming 50g of processed meat a day could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 19%.
The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) and BPEX have urged consumers to treat these results with caution, as various other factors that could influence the risk were left out from the research.
The paper itself, by Swedish Karolinska Institute researchers, states that further study is needed to confirm these results.
The UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends that people with high intakes of red and processed meats – over 90g a day – consider reducing their intakes to around 70g per day. Nine of out ten women, and six out of ten men, are already eating recommended levels of red meat and it is also worth noting that red meat contains a number of potential anti-cancer nutrients, such as folate, selenium and vitamins D and E.
More info. and links to source research at: http://meatandhealth.redmeatinfo.com/news-and-research/latest-news/expert-comment-consumption-bacon-and-risk-pancreatic-cancer
4. UK FSA to review acrylamide levels in foods
The FSA plans to survey acrylamide levels later this year and will evaluate steps food manufacturers have taken to address contamination levels, particularly in bread, crisps and crisp breads.
Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals, and it is believed that its presence in some foods could harm people’s health. It is formed when products containing protein are heated >120degC with sugars.
A toolbox (FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox) has been developed to help manufacturers to reduce levels of acrylamide in their products. It incorporates the latest scientific research and feedback from food operators, and deals with three main ingredient types where acrylamide formation is most likely to occur – potatoes, cereals and coffee, at various steps in the food chain i.e. agronomical, recipe, processing and final preparation.
To download the FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox (PDF), visit: http://www.fooddrinkeurope.eu/publication/fooddrinkeurope-updates-industry-wide-toolbox-to-help-manufacturers-further/
5. UK HPA report outbreak of Salmonella newport linked to pre-cut watermelon
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is investigating an outbreak of a strain of Salmonella newport infection among 30 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including one fatality, since the beginning of December 2011. Cases of illness caused by the same strain have also been confirmed in Scotland, Ireland and Germany.
Very early indications have suggested that a number of people may have become unwell after eating watermelon. The FSA & HPA have re-iterated advice on the washing of fruits and vegetables – including watermelon – before consumption to reduce the risk of possible illness.
More information at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/NewsCentre/NationalPressReleases/2012PressReleases/120202SalmonellaNewportoutbreak/
6. British Egg Industry Council appoints NSF-CMi to audit Lion Quality Code of Practice
BEIC have appointed NSF-CMi Certification as the new independent auditors for the Lion Quality Code of Practice.
They will provide independent assessment and certification across the Lion Scheme embracing >1750 sites, covering packing centres, laying, rearing and breeding farms, hatcheries and feed mills.
At the same time NSF-CMi will also become the Independent Control Body overseeing the collection of egg samples for salmonella lab testing. Since its introduction in 1998 the Lion scheme has played a key role in the elimination of salmonella from British eggs.
More info. at: http://www.nsf-cmi.com/pressreleases/BEICAppointsNewAuditors140212Final.pdf
7. EC ‘gluten-free’ and ‘very low gluten’ labelling regulation comes into force
EC Regulation No. 41/2009 came into full force from 1st January 2012. Copy of Regulation available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:016:0003:0005:EN:PDF
At the same time, the UK FSA has produced 2 factsheets to help consumers and caterers understand the new labelling law which covers all food, whether it’s in a packet on a supermarket shelf, on a menu, in a restaurant, or at a deli counter.
Any business that makes claims about gluten content has to ensure this food is labelled accurately and clearly, and must stick to the defined strict low levels.
The new food labelling regulation means that food can be labelled as:
‘Gluten-free’ – Suitable for people with coeliac disease (these foods can have no more than 20 parts of gluten per million).
‘Very low gluten’ – Must contain no more than 100 parts of gluten per million, and must contain ingredients that have been specially processed to reduce their gluten content, so will be mostly found on specialist products. Coeliacs can eat small amounts of these foods but they should get advice from a dietitian or health professional about how often they can eat them.
The new rules mean the phrase ‘suitable for coeliacs’, can only be used alongside the terms ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’ and can’t be used on its own.
The term ‘No gluten-containing ingredients’ may be used on food where gluten has not been intentionally added, but a small amount may be present from contact with other food. This phrase is not controlled by the law, and it cannot be guaranteed that this food is gluten-free. Some coeliacs may choose to eat small amounts occasionally, but should seek advice from a dietitian or health professional before they do.
The 2 fact-sheets carrying more information can be found at: http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2012/jan/glutenfactsheet
8. Association of European Coeliac Societies (AECS) adopts Coeliac UK gluten-free symbol
AECS have adopted the symbol as it seeks to standardise gluten-free labelling across Europe. Currently around 90 UK companies have adopted the cross-grain symbol which also has a presence in Italy, Austria & Germany; the symbol has also been recently trademarked in the US.
Coeliac UK charges an annual licence fee for use of the symbol linked to the turnover of the products listed on the licence.
According to new EU regulations on gluten-free products introduced in January, a product may only carry the term ‘gluten-free’ if the gluten content does not exceed 20mg/kg (EC Reg 41/2009).
More information on the symbol and licensing requirements at: http://www.coeliac.org.uk/food-industry/manufacturers-and-retailers/licensing-the-crossed-grain-symbol
9. UK NHS ‘Allergy myth-buster’ tool launched
An online tool launched on the NHS ‘Choices’ website and developed in conjunction with the FSA is aimed at dispelling myths about food allergy and intolerance. It tackles topics including:
• the differences between allergies and intolerances
• whether you can ‘outgrow’ allergies and intolerances
• the use of home-test kits
• whether allergies and intolerances can be cured.
A number of surveys have found that 20%-30% of people claim to have a food allergy. However, an FSA report in 2008 estimated that only 5-8% of children and 1-2% of adults really do have a food allergy.
Info and tool available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Food-allergy-myth-buster.aspx
10. BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 6 goes ‘live’
The British Retail Consortium published Issue 6 of their Global Standard for Food Safety in July 2011 and the new Standard has been used for all audits from 1st January 2012. Certificates issued against Issue 5 remain valid for the duration indicated on the certificate.
A document highlighting the key differences between Issue 5 & Issue 6 can be found at: http://www.brcglobalstandards.com/Portals/0/media/files/Overview%20of%20the%20changes%20issue%205%20to%2062.pdf
11. UK FSA Food and Allergy Alerts (February ’12)
Product Withdrawal Information Notices:
Product Recall Information Notices
10/01: Makro recalls certain batches of tapas meat products, bought after 6th October 2011, because some are contaminated with listeria. (Tapas Chorizo Sliced, 80g and 200g; Tapas Serrano Ham Sliced, 80g and 300g; Tapas Trio Sliced, 150g, containing Serrano ham, Chorizo sausage and Salchichon)
17/01: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc recalls all batches of certain own-brand smoked mackerel products due to a processing error that may result in the products being undercooked.(Smoked Scottish Mackerel fillets (tray pack); Smoked Mackerel fillets with lemon and parsley (tray pack); Smoked Peppered Mackerel fillets (tray pack); Mexicana Smoked Mackerel fillets (tray pack); Smoked Scottish Mackerel (vacuum pack))
24/01: Iceland recalls its Frozen Lamb Mince 454g, Best Before 11th October 2012 due to presence of salmonella.
09/02: Marks and Spencer recalls four products from its Chinese range with a ‘use by’ date of 9 March 2012 as they should have been labelled with a ‘use by’ date of 9 February 2012. (Crispy Prawn Wonton; Crispy Vegetable Balls; Prawn Baguette Toast; Prawn Siu Mai Selection.
25/02: SPAR recalls one batch (Use by 03 March 2012) of SPAR Flame Grilled Chicken Chunks, 140g, as a precaution, due to the presence of low levels of Listeria monocytogenes being detected in one sample during routine monitoring. Distributed to stores in the Midlands and Wales.
27/02: Morrisons recalls one date of its own-brand Whole Nut Milk Chocolate 200g (Best before 16 June 2012) due to possible contamination with small pieces of metal.
02/03: B&M Sausages withdraws a variety of meat products in Scotland due to the potential for cross-contamination.
20/03: WM Morrison Supermarkets plc recalls one date code of its own-brand cooked turkey breast due to incorrect date coding.
21/03: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc recalls additional date code of its own-brand cooked turkey breast due to incorrect date coding.
Food Alerts for Action
11/01: Waitrose withdraws all date codes of their own ‘Essential’ Salmon and Dill Fishcakes, 170g because the product contains very low levels of mustard, which is not mentioned on the product label, resulting in incorrect allergen labelling.
18/01: UK Snacks Ltd recalls a batch code of Giants 'Just Fruit' mixed dried fruits, 300g (BBE July 2012; Batch code: D228) because it contains sulphur dioxide which is not declared on the label.
27/01: Doves Farm Foods Limited withdraws one batch of Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour 1kg (Best Before: 12.10.12 Batch: 2011) due to low levels of gluten present in the product (just above the limits for food labelled ‘gluten-free’)
31/01: Asda withdraws one date code (Use by 02 Feb 2012) of Asda Layered Prawn Salad, 440g due to a packaging error (incorrect top label) resulting in a potential allergen issue (shellfish(prawns))07/02: Natco Foods Limited withdraws one batch (BB October 2012, Batch Code 110420 BN0509) of their Gluten Free Gram Flour, 2kg due to elevated levels of gluten present in the product
08/02: Virani Food Products withdraws one batch (BBE July 2013, Batch Code 010) of their gluten free Gram Flour, 2kg due to elevated levels of gluten present in the product.
09/02: Suma recalls one date code of Suma Organic Pesto Alla Genovese with Basil, 190g, due to the undeclared presence of milk. The product is also labelled as suitable for vegans, although the product contains a non-vegan cheese.
09/02: Weetabix Ltd withdraws its Oatibix Bites Sultana and Apple breakfast cereal, 550g, (BB 22/01/2013) because it contains wheat (gluten) which is not mentioned on the label (Tesco only).
09/02: Doves Farm withdraws certain batch codes of its Chocolate and Crispy Rice Bars, 5 x 35g, due to the undeclared presence of milk
09/02: Waitrose recalls all date codes of its LOVE Life You Count Spiced King Prawn Noodle Salad 230g as the product contains sesame seeds which have not been declared on the allergen advisory box.
13/02: Granovita withdraws one batch (BB 21 Apr 2012) of its Mushroom Pateole Yeast Spread. The product contains levels of gluten that are above the limits allowed for foods to be labelled gluten-free.
20/02: Delight Foods (UK) Ltd withdraws all date codes of Periyar Fish Pickle 400g and Perivar Prawn Pickle 400g as they contain sesame oil that has been listed on the packaging as Gingelly oil. This is not a common name for sesame and therefore does not adequately inform consumers as to the allergen contained within the products. 20/02: Asda recalls its Frozen Extra Special (twin packs) Cheesecake White Chocolate and Raspberry 230g due to a packaging error resulting in the undeclared presence of egg and sulphur dioxide. Best before: End September 2012, L11263A and L11269A
22/02: Waitrose recalls its own-brand Gammon in Parsley Sauce, 400g, with a 'use by' date of 23 February 2012. The product may contain haddock instead of gammon, which isn’t listed on the label.
22/02: Waitrose recalls one date code of its own-brand gammon in parsley sauce due to the possible undeclared presence of fish. Allergen: Fish
28/02: Surya Foods Ltd withdraws two batch codes of J.F. Mills Rich 'n Moist Luxury Cake Mix due to incorrect allergen labelling. Allergen: Gluten (Wheat)
01/03: Nisa withdraws one batch of Heritage Blueberry Muffins due to undeclared soya ingredient.
05/03: WM Morrison Supermarkets plc recalls its own carvery cooked ham due to incorrect allergen labelling. Allergen: mustard
06/03: Lituanica UK Ltd recalls all batch codes of Arsenal branded Marshmallow Vanilla due to the undeclared presence of peanuts. Allergen: Peanuts
16/03: Surya Foods Ltd withdraws all batch codes of five J.F. Mills products due to incorrect allergen labelling. Allergen: Gluten (wheat)
22/03: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc recalls one batch of its own-brand Carvery Honey and Mustard Ham due to incorrect allergen information. Allergen: Mustard