> Poor Drainage leads to Listeria Outbreak and £275,000 Fine - The Food Safety Company Poor Drainage leads to Listeria Outbreak and £275,000 Fine - The Food Safety Company
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    Thursday, 12 January 2017

    Poor Drainage leads to Listeria Outbreak and £275,000 Fine

    On Monday, Cumbrian company Pioneer Foods appeared before Carlisle Magistrates Court on various charges including the selling of meats contaminated with listeria and subsequent failure to inform authorities of the risk to the public. The company was fined £275,000, as well as prosecution costs of £28,907 and victims surcharge of £125.

    When consumed in food, listeria can cause the bacterial disease listeriosis. It readily colonises food processing plants that have not followed adequate sanitation procedures, meaning processed meat can often be affected. The news comes as it emerges that cases of listeria in general are on the rise in Europe.

    It is thought the pathogen managed to enter the food supply in this case thanks to poor drainage in the factory: meaning waste water flowed into the cooked meat production room from raw meat areas.  

    Between 21 December 2014 and 1 December 2015, the company fell short of 2013 Food and Health Safety and Hygiene England regulations. Specifically, reports name the various charges as including:
    • Placing batches of food on the market which tested for listeria monocytogenes, being as they were unsafe and injurious to health and unfit for human consumption.
    • Failure to immediately inform the competent authorities.
    • Failure to keep the cooked meat production area clean and maintained in good repair.
    • Failure to ensure that food handlers were supervised and trained in food hygiene matters.
    • Failure to ensure that those responsible received adequate training.
    • Failure to protect against contamination and poor drainage resulting in waste water from raw meat areas flowing back into the cooked meat production room.
    • Failure to ensure that foodstuffs complied with the relevant microbiological criteria set out within the Act.
    • A number of other hygiene offences.

    In a statement, Pioneer foods claimed: ‘We fully recognise that in this department, mistakes were made and we fell far short of the standards we should have held ourselves to. We wish to give our customers complete reassurance in the ongoing integrity and safety of all our products.

    ‘The company has the strongest procedures and standards of independently and externally audited hygiene control in place to ensure there can never be any repeat of what happened. In our remaining departments, our processors operate nationally recognised methods that carry full approval to public sector standards.’

    However, whilst the company tries to regain consumer confidence, it is unlikely they will succeed very soon. Recalls, contaminations and food safety breaches are notoriously hard to overcome. This case clearly highlights the importance of good drainage and hygiene practices in production facilities. 

    James Stannard

    James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London.
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