The Food Standards Agency have revised their guidance on E.coli O157 control of cross-contamination. The guidance has been updated to take into account the results from independent research into the effectiveness of disinfecting complex equipment, and the views of industry and local authority stakeholders. The aim of the guidance on E.coli is to ensure that businesses manage the risk to consumer from the presence of E.coli in food.
The revised guidance on E.coli provides greater flexibility
The revised guidance provides greater flexibility for businesses and clarifies the following:
Businesses do not have to have separate areas for handling raw and ready-to-eat foods (RTE) where they can demonstrate that separation by time with effective cleaning and disinfection will manage the risk of cross-contamination. However, more emphasis will be put on what is stored above and below these dual use areas.
Less complex equipment, such as temperature probes, mixers and weighing scales, may be used for both non-ready-to-eat (NRTE) and RTE foods providing the business is able to demonstrate that such equipment will be effectively cleaned and disinfected between uses.
More complex equipment such as vacuum packers, slicers and mincers, may also be effectively cleaned and disinfected between uses so long as such machines are completely dismantled to allow all surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned. In practice, however, this is likely to be extremely challenging in terms of vacuum-packing machines as it will rely on a competent engineer undertaking a complicated dismantling and reassembling process. However, cleaning to allow a more permanent change of use, for example to re-commission and buy and sell second-hand vacuum packers, may be feasible. In the case of slicers and mincers, dismantling, cleaning and disinfecting may be more straightforward but is unlikely to be feasible during normal business operations. Businesses wishing to use such machines for NRTE and RTE foods would need to fully assess the risks and to demonstrate to the relevant local authority that cleaning between uses will provide effective controls.
Less emphasis is being put on the temperatures of dish washer machines but more emphasis on whether the machine is being serviced and maintained.
Chemical spray bottle labels should identify the area the bottle can be used in, the concentration of the chemical, its contact time and its expiry date
The FSA are inviting comments from industry on the revised guidance and the deadline for these to be submitted in 29th August 2014. Feedback can be given here: