How safe is my food?

In November 1996, 21 people died and 60 were hospitalised in what was the world’s worst recorded case of E.Coli contamination. 

It took place in Scotland at the hands of a former Scottish Butcher of the Year in Wishaw, Lanarkshire.  The steak pies at the annual parish church lunch for pensioners accounted for about half of the deaths.  The cold meat platter at a party at the Cascade Bar hospitalised a large number of all ages. Cold meat had been contaminated by being handled along with raw meat, and the same knives were used for raw and cooked meat. Also temperature probes were not used in the cooking of raw meat.  The butcher employed several young people who had not been trained and did not understand what they were doing. 

Ninety per cent of the reason controls don’t happen is down to two things: people don’t know how to operate them (they haven’t been trained), or they are not seen as important (nobody says anything if they aren’t performed, there is no consequence for them). 

However, the consequence of controls not being operated is that the risk is far higher than assumed – both the impact and the likelihood of occurrence.  And in this case the consequence for 21 unsuspecting people was fatal. 

Data Source:The Grocer magazine, The Daily Record

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