Craft bakers can use a new online calculator to reduce the amount of salt in their bread which could help to improve their customers' health. A quick guide to reducing salt in bread is also available.
These tools have been produced following research by the FSA, the National Association of Master Bakers and Norfolk County Council that looked at whether the craft bakery sector could reduce salt in bread and meet FSA 2012 salt targets.
The calculator and quick guide can be used by bakers to see the amount of salt in their final bread product. Bakers just need to identify how much flour and salt they use – in grams, pounds or ounces. They can then see where they are in relation to the 2012 salt target for bread – 1g of salt per 100g of final product – and see how they can make reductions towards that target.
The salt in bread calculator and ‘Reducing salt in bread’ quick guide, which includes testimonials from craft bakers about the tested recipes, can be found at the links towards the end of this page.
The research looked at whether salt could be reduced in bread made in the craft bakery sector, and identified recipe changes that would allow the production of bread in line with the salt targets. The recipes were tested in commercial craft bakers’ premises, in different locations, with different bread-making processes.
The results show that reducing salt levels to the voluntary target:
- is easily achievable
- should not affect the rest of your recipes
- is acceptable to customers
Research also showed that bakers can reduce the level of salt in bread by 25% over six weeks and customers will not notice the difference.
So, if you’re a craft baker and you want to make a real difference to the health of your customers, while maintaining the quality of your bread, use the calculator or the quick guide at the links below to calculate the levels of salt in your bread and gradually reduce them.
More information about the research and its results can be found at the links towards the end of this page.
What is a craft baker?
A craft baker is a skilled craftsman or craftswoman who produces a traditional range of baked bread. This could include a wholemeal loaf, a cottage loaf, white crusty bloomers, or rolls, for example. A craft baker usually supplies direct to the consumer through one or more shops.
Bread is an important part of the diet and a good source of nutrients and fibre – but, because we eat it so frequently, it contributes a significant amount of salt to our diet.
In the UK we are eating far too much salt, and high salt diets result in high blood pressure, leading to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. So the Agency is working successfully with industry to reduce the levels of salt in 80 categories of food to help reduce people’s daily intake. We have set a voluntary salt reduction target for bread of 1g salt /100g final product by 2012.
People should aim to eat no more than 6g per day, less for children.
Reducing salt in bread A quick guide for craft bakers - PDF opens
Salt in bread calculator Craft bakers can make a real difference to the health of their customers
Salt Are you having too much salt?
9 February 2012
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), the world's leading supplier of food safety training and food safety adviser to the 2012 Olympic Games will be exhibiting at the Dubai International Food Safety Conference 21 to 23 February.
CIEH Middle East Director Abdul Rashid said the CIEH was looking forward to being able to offer a comprehensive food safety management pack for food businesses in Dubai.
“With the Dubai Municipality (DM) now issuing fines if food businesses don’t have a Person in Charge (PIC) of food safety in place at all hours of operation, the CIEH has developed a simple easy to use PIC Food Safety management pack for managers and business owners.
“The Pack is designed to keep all records and information about food safety in one place, so when DM inspectors come to check if they are abiding with food safety law and regulations, it will be easy for the food business to show they are using a proper food safety management system.
“The Pack is specially designed for food businesses in Dubai and packs are available for the three most popular cuisines in the Emirate; Arabian, Indian and Continental.”
The CIEH will also have a special membership offer for new Middle East members available at the Conference.
“Membership of the CIEH is an honour and lets colleagues and others know you are a committed professional to best practice in environmental health,” said Mr Rashid.
“We will have discounted membership rates available at the conference for those wishing to become part of a progressive worldwide organisation championing environmental health in the Middle East and around the globe.”
For CIEH media enquiries, please contact Ava Lawrence on +44 20 7827 6342 or + 44 781 479 0399
Notes to editors:
- An ambitious environmental health body with a dynamic vision for growth, the CIEH’s future plans include increasing its global market share for its portfolio of public and environmental health qualifications. The organisation operates in over 23 countries including China, the USA and across the Middle East. Over 10 million people around the world hold a coveted CIEH qualification.
- Its customer-base is diverse and includes everything from small businesses to international conglomerates like McDonalds, the Intercontinental Hotels Group as well as governmental bodies in Middle East and, China and international agencies like the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
- The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
- The CIEH’s 50 qualification training programmes are delivered through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organisations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are UAE and UK accredited and are valued and recognised throughout the world
- The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is a leading provider of accredited qualifications in health and safety, food safety, environmental protection, fire safety and first aid and operates in 23 countries. Over 8 million people around the world from the UK to the USA and the Middle East hold a CIEH qualification
- Visit www.cieh.org/middleeast for more information or see below.
The CIEH and the Middle East
The CIEH has been operating in the Middle East for a number of years. A vibrant and rapidly growing market in hospitality and tourism has increased demand for training in these areas. We have worked with several large businesses to tailor training solutions in food hygiene, health and safety, fire protection and environmental awareness.
We are currently expanding our membership offering so that training companies and larger businesses in the region can benefit from our campaign to improve public health across the globe.
Classroom training is available through our global network of over 6,000 training centres, and we provide our main courses online through the CIEH eLearning.
Candidates can be assessed in most languages, including Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, Bengali, Malayalam and Nepalese.
The CIEH allocates a dedicated account manager for our business customers, offering a single point of contact for advice and support. Regular updates and monitoring of service levels ensure you receive the highest standards in service.
Everything we do - from influencing government policy, creating a new degree curriculum, running educational events and developing new training qualifications and materials – contributes towards improving health and well-being.
Wherever you are and whatever your size – we’ll help you improve performance and profitability, comply with legal requirements and adopt internationally recognised standards of best practice.
Developed with our customers in mind, our qualifications include attractive and easy to understand training support materials and course books.
Our CourseFinder online service allows you to find an accredited training centre in your area.
The CIEH represents over 10,000 environmental health professionals working in government and business.
Corporate CIEH membership allows you to ensure your voice is heard, and help us work with the authorities to set best practice policies for public health.
You will be able to see first-hand the effect of our campaigns for better public health in the Gulf and internationally.
Some current clients in the region:
This page provides an overview of the key issues and challenges that face environmental health professionals in the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games.
As the venue operational planning phase starts in earnest, this page aims to guide environmental health professionals in considering and planning management strategies leading up to and during the Games.
With the fast pace of planning the CIEH aims to keep environmental health professionals updated with similar briefings at regular intervals.
The “Greatest Show on Earth”
The Olympics/Paralympics are the largest international mass gatherings in the world. As such, they pose particular challenges for public and environmental health, namely they can:
- Place significant pressure on the civil infrastructure for example, water supply, accommodation, transportation;
- Create opportunities for the rapid spread of communicable disease;
- Place strain on the continuity, safety and security of the food supply;
- Provide a target for disruptive/terrorist activity for example, deliberate (or hoax) release of chemical, biological or radiological agents;
- Increase adverse impacts on the environment for example, increased waste and pollution;
- Increase risks to public safety and health.
Consequently, environmental health practitioners (EHPs) have an extensive contribution to make to the planning and preparation required to minimise the risk and maximise the health, safety and welfare of all involved.
Key areas of activity for EHPs include “controlling” the safety of food in supply, preparation and service; compliance assessment and management of drinking water quality; air quality; waste water; solid and hazardous waste; environmental control; pest management; housing standards; health and safety; emergency planning as well as promotion of healthy eating and sustainability.
CIEH Strategy for the Games
From the time London won the bid, the CIEH set out a vision and strategy for London 2012.
In particular the CIEH aims to:-
- Position itself within the Olympic/Paralympic development, planning and administrative processes, to assist in promoting and protecting public and environmental health;
- Promote consistency in professional environmental health standards, policy and practice within and outside the Games areas;
- Identify and share the learning acquired through achieving consistent professional standards in environmental health policy and competent professional practice as a legacy for future public health and wellbeing.
Whilst the CIEH has the ability to take a holistic view of the environmental health aspects of the Games, we have focused our activity on specific issues in order to maximise outcomes. Key areas identified for contribution and support include:
- Food safety and standards;
- Public health;
- Pest management and minimisation;
- Legacy issues.
The CIEH has sought to balance supporting the Olympics/Paralympics administration and Joint Local Authority Regulatory Services (JLARS - responsible for the regulatory enforcement within the Olympic Park) within venues and related sites with the need to support environmental health professionals outside of the venues, and in more general visitor areas where large numbers of visitors are expected.
Achievements so far
Achievements so far have included:
- Guidance for outdoor and mobile catering, including markets;
- Pest minimisation and control during demolition, construction and site management;
- Food safety, health and safety, and welfare of construction workers – project to review support;
- Pest management in hospitality/hotel accommodation;
- Role of environmental health in Safety Advisory Groups;
- Food safety and standards strategy;
- Mobile vending strategy;
- Professional workshops on key environmental health issues;
- Contribution to the Department of Health, Public Health Work Stream on public health issues;
- Close working with the Olympic administration in particular the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), London Organising Committee for the Olympic/Paralympics Games (LOCOG), Joint Local Authority Regulatory Services (JLARS), Government Olympic Executive (GOE);
- Close working with other partners and Government agencies especially Food Standards Agency (FSA), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Greater London Authority (GLA);
- Representation on the LOCOG Food Advisory Group;
- Leading a panel of experts on reviewing LOCOG catering contracts for venues.
The documents mentioned above can be found on the web page guidance, publications and presentations.
Further references and links are provided at end of this document.
Capacity to respond
In the wider context of restricted resources and the fast changing landscape of public health, regulation and local authority function, it is a further challenge to consider how local service providers will be able to respond effectively to any additional demands made on environmental health services during London 2012. While considering how the Games are going to impact locally, and the management strategies that need to be in place to maintain “business as usual”, environmental health services may need to take into account:
- Anticipated visitor numbers;
- Transport hubs and other focal points for visitors, tourists and local residents;
- Temporary accommodation sites like camp grounds;
- Planned cultural activities and events;
- Road closures and transport changes, which may also impact on staff travel;
- Annual leave, volunteering and contingency arrangements;
- Joint warranting and other service sharing schemes;
- Training camps;
- Live sites;
- Route of the Torch relay;
- Additional resources needed to manage increased demands such as food monitoring during the Games;
- Any other additional services such as impact on Licensing.
The environmental health focus
Food safety and standards
Olympics/Paralympics catering is recognised as the “largest peace time catering operation in the world” and London 2012 is planning to serve an estimated 14 million meals over 40 locations. Previous Olympic and Paralympic games have identified the risk of food and water borne infections occurring as “high”. This is largely due to the numbers of meals required as well as increased demand outside the venues. The profile of the Olympics/Paralympics will mean high media profile for any food borne infections or other food related problems. As a consequence, the CIEH particularly wishes to ensure that food safety standards are high not only in the venues themselves but those standards are consistently maintained across localities outside the venues. The CIEH is working closely with the FSA and other partners to identify activities that will enhance food safety during the Games.
LOCOG Food Vision and Charter
The LOCOG Food Vision, launched in December 2009 sets the standards for food provision within Games venues. The Food Vision has five key themes, with food safety being the number one priority. The five themes are:
- Food safety and hygiene
- Choice and balance
- Food sourcing and supply chain
- Environmental management
- Skills and education
LOCOG established a Food Advisory Group to help steer the development of the strategy and develop a Food Charter. This is a campaign to encourage catering and hospitality organisations outside the venues to commit to supporting and implementing the Olympics/Paralympics standards stated within the Food Vision. Representatives from the CIEH and the FSA sit on and help inform the LOCOG Food Advisory Group.
Local environmental health action
All local service providers will need to ensure appropriate plans are developed to manage food safety issues in the run up to and during the Games. These will need to be supported by robust arrangements to address failures or other potential food related crises.
There are already a number of tools to support this work on a local level:
- Multi-agency Food Safety and Standards strategy document that provides a framework to consider effective management of food safety issues in a locality
- Multi-agency Mobile vending strategy document that provides a framework to consider effective management of mobile and street vending for food items
- Updated guidance on outdoor mobile catering (especially useful for events)
- Food Vision website providing examples of good practice and initiatives www.foodvision.gov.uk
- Safer Food and Better Business programmes
- Food Hygiene Rating Scheme/Scores on the Doors
- Professional discussion and learning from workshops on Enforcement and Licensing
- Mobile vending scheme being developed and “Log book” approach for mobile food vendors (for more information on this work please contact Sharon Smith firstname.lastname@example.org)
Documents can be accessed on the CIEH web page guidance, publications and presentations.
What can you do?
- You can get involved in promoting the LOCOG Food Charter to local food businesses
- Agree a management strategy and local action plan to improve compliance (SFBB/Food Hygiene Rating Schemes/Scores on the Doors)
- Link with licensing officers, other local authority teams and local private sector providers to ensure joint protocols to manage problems are in place and that there is effective communication between partners
- Work with LOCOG to support achievement of high standards within venue catering through the venue planning teams and other LOCOG liaison points
With the emerging Government proposals for Public Health England, the Olympics /Paralympics are likely to be an important test bed for new structures and partnerships. In terms of public health, the general risk assessments identify the following broad risks to public health leading up to and during the event:
- Infectious disease- food borne and water borne diseases, traveller’s diarrhoea, airborne disease, sexually transmitted disease, vector transmitted disease, non-endemic diseases;
- Non infectious traumas- climate related illness such as heat stroke, injury such as falls, road accidents or drowning, deliberate use of CBRN agents;
- Other health impacts- nuisance- environmental and social (noise, pests), environmental factors.
Communicable diseases represented less than 1% of the total number of visits to health care settings both in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. However, the recognised risks to public health from large numbers of people congregating in a limited number of venues means that public health contingency planning is a high priority. The NHS and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) will be responsible for the development of a public health plan that will include infectious disease surveillance and control arrangements. For more information on the HPA 2012 programme please contact HPA2012@hpa.org.uk.
While the NHS are working on enhancing and developing national health surveillance/ monitoring systems, environmental health can usefully refresh how internal systems effectively identify and respond to outbreaks and cases of disease. Environmental health practitioners have considerable expertise at managing incidents and should continue to develop appropriate Games time protocols in partnership with relevant agencies including local resilience forums.
On 6 April 2010, revised health protection legislation came into force in England. This reinforced the legal requirement for all Registered Medical Practitioners to make notifications to Proper Officers on the basis of clinical suspicion rather than wait for laboratory confirmation. In addition, there were changes to the list of notifiable diseases and other guidance. The Regulations also changed the way local authorities manage communicable disease and so it is important for all local authorities to ensure that current procedures have been updated to take into account the new Regulations and guidance for current activities and in preparation for the Games.
Local authorities and agencies are working together to support consistency in implementation of necessary measures and are developing a reporting system to provide regular and detailed reports to LOCOG (and the IOC) on all aspects of public health in the run up to and during the Games. The objective is to provide assurance that appropriate public health responses are undertaken.
Health and wellbeing
The Olympic Games offers unique and multiple opportunities for health promotion on a scale that not only benefits participants and visitors, but can also reach millions of viewers, through the media, as well as the public as a whole. Environmental health teams are already involved in health development and health promotion activities within their communities. A focus on sport will promote increased physical activity but the Games offer wider opportunities for further health promotion messages e.g. about alcohol consumption, healthy eating, sustainable food consumption, safer sex and sun protection. Environmental health can link to campaigns being promoted through LOCOG, national government agencies and regional initiatives such as those being developed by the GLA in London.
NHS London is also acting as lead agency to ensure health service messages are effectively delivered, resources are in place and the NHS and public are informed about health provision during Games time.
Environmental Health can use key health promotion messages throughout all their functions and services leading up to and during Games time and as part of the subsequent legacy. Local authority health promotion approaches can take many routes. These might be through the role of educator, as a major employer, in procurement strategies, as a regulator, in planning, as a major local service provider, as a licensing authority and/or as a democratic policy maker. Health promotion and health development initiatives offer a cost effective option for managing local and national public health challenges with restricted resources.
What can you do?
- Environmental health professionals can seek to support and promote such activities in line with local policy positions and programmes. Use London 2012 as a “hook” for health promotion activities;
- Identify healthy eating (See Food Vision website for ideas) and other health promotion campaigns to tie in with local activities. Work together with local partners to develop consistent campaigns which maximise outputs;
- Link work on health inequalities with targeted health promotion to focus on the communities in most need;
- Consider supporting the LOCOG Inspire Programme – including Get Set education programmes;
- Review your communicable disease monitoring and surveillance protocols and partnership arrangements.
Sustainability and environmental protection
Sustainability is at the heart of the London 2012 Games and LOCOG has made commitments to deliver a sustainable and environmentally friendly event. Extensive work is being done to ensure all venues maximise energy efficiency, minimise water consumption and encourage biodiversity. Social, economic and environmental sustainability and the One Planet Living theme remain central to the planning of the Games.
The London 2012 Sustainability Policy identifies five priority themes: climate change, waste, biodiversity, inclusion and healthy living. More details can be found at the London 2012 Sustainability Policy.
LOCOG has produced sustainability guidelines for managing corporate and public events.
The CIEH believes sustainability plays a critical role in maintaining long term health. Through its existing links and partnerships, the CIEH supports the assessment, surveillance, monitoring, management and control of key environmental areas namely:
- Contaminated land;
- Construction noise;
- Air quality (construction, transport, Games time);
- Water contamination;
- Nuisance management;
- Dealing with hazardous waste/materials.
The CIEH also views sustainability as central to its vision and activities and has recently been awarded the BS8900 Managing Sustainable Development.
What can you do?
- Continue to be involved and support existing local sustainability networks and partnerships;
- Support London pollution study groups and other similar professional network groups throughout the country;
- Encourage local event organisers to support sustainability in the management of their activities;
- Use London 2012 Sustainability achievements to highlight and promote good practice.
Health and safety
The CIEH is working closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The overarching vision of the HSE is to support an exemplar London 2012 with exemplar health and safety performance. This will be achieved through encouraging strong leadership and competence, driving up standards of health and safety and creating a healthier, safer working environment. The HSE have recently issued their intervention strategy for London 2012.
Environmental health professionals will need to assess venue health and safety risks, where they have enforcement responsibilities, as well as related activities such as street and community events which may be taking place outside of the venues. This will include assessing risks and management of Legionella and other infections related to water leisure and the hospitality industry.
One of the key ways environmental health professionals can contribute to the wider planning for Competition venues or local community events is through participation in Safety Advisory Groups or Operational Management Groups (SAG/OPG) associated with the events/venues. The main role of a SAG/OPG is to provide specialist advice on the event, venues and immediate environs. It provides a forum for a co-ordinated approach across partners and stakeholders. It also provides a forum that can take on other safety and public functions, as agreed. Environmental health is a key stakeholder and should be represented on the groups that are set up for events/stadia.
What can you do?
- Set up or make sure you are involved in a relevant SAG/OPG for the venue or event in your area;
- Be familiar with the HSE strategy and engage with them on local issues and planning;
- Investigate joint warranting for Games time staffing and beyond;
- Implement a management and information programme for Legionnaires disease for the larger hotels, spas and complexes.
Licensing of events and activities
The Olympics /Paralympics encourage and inspire local communities to celebrate local culture and diversity. The Games, along with other key celebrations in 2012 such as the Queens Diamond Jubilee, will create opportunities for a wide range of community, street and sporting events. Environmental health will need to play an active role in helping to manage the public health and safety impact of these events. There is a national calendar of events – The London Events Co-ordination Calendar (LECC) being produced by the Greater London Authority for 2012. The Mayor has asked event organisers to register their event by 31 March 2011 (www.london.gov.uk). This will be a useful planning tool for local authorities to help plan services.
Licensing is a useful mechanism for managing community events. Temporary Event Notices (TENs) are a short notification of a community event. The only means of objection to the event is through the Police on the grounds of crime and disorder issues. The notification is not an application and the local authority can only control the events by ensuring excellent internal and external communications and through developing good links with partners in licensing and the police to help sort out potential problems associated with the events. There are other ways of controlling the events such as using Highways (road closure) consent or if the event is being held on public land/owned by the local authority but these still require robust response systems in place within the local authority.
What can you do?
- Liaise internally to ensure that environmental health concerns are addressed.
- Use the CIEH mobile event catering guidance and the new log book initiative.
- Consider using licensing as a means of managing food safety for mobile vending, larger events and street trading. Work with Street Trading managers to plan ways in which you will manage “front garden” and other mobile traders. (See Mobile Vending Strategy).
Pests can be responsible for transmitting infection and disease and can also cause serious nuisance and discomfort. The high profile of the Games will mean that any negative publicity about pest infestations is likely to impact adversely on the UK reputation. Pest minimisation and pest proofing will be important steps in reducing the risk to public health.
The CIEH recognises the importance of protecting the public from threats associated with pests and continues to work with the National Pest Advisory Panel (NPAP) to support professionals and industry in the effective minimisation of pests likely to affect the Olympic experience. The following tools are available:
- A best practice guidance document for the construction industry for pest minimisation and proofing during design, demolition and construction of the Olympic park and similar venues;
- A best practice document for the hospitality industry dealing with pest minimisation, especially focussing on the identification and management of bedbugs;
- A best practice document for the site management of events venues and buildings to reduce the risk of pest infestation;
- Learning from the experience of Beijing.
The above documents can be found in our guidance, publications and presentations section.
What can you do?
- Provide information and/or workshops for the hospitality industry in your area;
- Provide information to local tourist information centres for visitors;
- Undertake a local PR campaign to raise the profile of risks and issues for business.
Inevitably there will be an increase in demand for accommodation. This will not only put pressure on the existing hotels and bed and breakfasts in your area but also open up new opportunities for renting rooms, homes, caravans and even setting up camp sites. Environmental health are best placed to manage the impacts of these activities within their areas and to offer advice to home and land owners who may be considering maximising their incomes during London 2012.
Existing landlords may also wish to make the most of increased demand. Ways in which this may impact on the more vulnerable short term tenancies require consideration.
What can you do?
- Provide information to home and land owners about requirements for safe and healthy rented accommodation;
- Review local planning policy on camp sites and environmental health management strategies for inspection and advice to existing camp site proprietors;
- Provide information to existing landlords;
- Consider how vulnerable tenants may be affected by increased demand for private rented accommodation locally and ways in which you will respond.
London 2012 presents a unique risk potential for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) or other terrorist incidents. Environmental health professionals have an established role as key players in developing and implementing emergency/ contingency planning protocols. The environmental health function is to assess the risks associated with environmental health activities and work with partners to limit and manage the risks. Environmental health professionals can work within the local resilience framework to ensure that risks and environmental health action to negate or reduce the risks are part of the planning process.
What can you do?
- Engage with your local resilience framework;
- Find out if there are to be any local contingency exercises into which you can incorporate environmental health issues;
- Encourage contingency exercises (desk top) for your service area or business;
- Undertake a risk assessment of incident potential within your locality.
The Games provide an opportunity for environmental health professionals to revisit local protocols and procedures and to update and enhance guidance, policy and practice. It is not only improved systems and processes that we can offer as a legacy but the shared learning and experience from the planning and preparations will benefit the profession and public health beyond Games time.
Environmental health services have a long history of partnership working and this is now even more evident in the lead up to the Olympics/Paralympics. The planning brings opportunities to develop stronger links with a wide range of stakeholders, create better understanding of different roles and functions and reinforce the benefits of working jointly in shared services and approaches.
With the strong sustainability profile of the Games and the encouragement towards local services and procurement, there are opportunities to develop a creative and supportive local business response.
An online tool aimed at dispelling myths about food allergy and intolerance has been launched on the NHS Choices website, with the help of the Food Standards Agency.
The tool, developed in conjunction with FSA allergy experts, looks at common misconceptions about food allergies and intolerances and sorts the facts from fiction.
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
Sue Hattersley, head of the FSA’s Allergy Branch said: ‘This myth-buster tool provides information in an easy-to-use format and I challenge everyone to have a go on it and see how much they really know about allergy.’
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.
More on the allergy tool can be found on the NHS Choices website at the link below. Agency advice on food allergy and intolerance can also be found on NHS Choices, and more on our allergy work is on this site.
This myth buster will help you separate fact from fiction and understand the differences between a food allergy and an intolerance. Learn more about symptoms, treatment and how many people are affected.
Click here for the NHS Food allergy and intolerance myth buster tool.
Allergy and intolerance
This section gives information on the Food Standards Agency's work on food allergy and intolerance, including research, labelling, advice to caterers and guidance notes.
The Food Standards Agency's approach to food allergy and intolerance has three main aims:
- to fund research that will help increase our knowledge and understanding of food allergy and intolerance
- strengthen food labelling rules to help people who need to avoid certain ingredients
- help raise awareness of food allergy and intolerance among caterers
Click here for more information on food allergy and intolerance
If you require food allergy training we have our own food allergy workshop or you could consider doing the CIEH level 2 Healthier Food and Special Diets Award Just give us a call 020 3371 1516
Further to Current note 45/4803 (at http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/ewr/redirect.aspx?id=49885), the European Food Safety Authority has recently published its Scientific opinion on norovirus (NoV) in oysters: methods, limits and control options.
EFSA's Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ Panel) concluded in this risk assessment that the most effective public health measures to protect consumers from exposure to norovirus in oysters are to produce oysters in areas which are not contaminated or to prevent contamination of mollusc production areas.
According to the Panel, methods currently used to remove norovirus in shellfish should be improved. The Panel recommends, in line with its previous general recommendation for food-borne viruses, that measures to reduce norovirus in oysters should focus on preventing initial contamination of production areas rather than attempting to remove the virus from contaminated foods.
The opinion recommends that risk managers should consider establishing an acceptable limit for norovirus in oysters that are intended to be harvested and placed on the market in the EU. Establishing overall microbiological criteria supports the setting of acceptable limits and determines among others the analytical methods, sampling plans and actions to be taken if criteria are not met. Such criteria can be useful for verifying compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles and could be used as additional controls in production areas as well as during processing and retail.
In addition, the scientists are recommending an EU-wide baseline survey on norovirus contamination in oysters in order to estimate overall consumer exposure. Such a survey would also provide information that could be used to evaluate the public health impact of control measures put in place over time. [Source: EFSA News Story, 17 January 2012. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/120117.htm]
Outbreak of Salmonella Newport
2 February 2012
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 since the beginning of December 2011. Cases of illness caused by the same strain have been confirmed in Scotland, Ireland and Germany.
The figures compare to 10, 12, and 11 cases over the same period in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. Around 200 cases of Salmonella Newport are reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland each year.
Infection with Salmonella Newport causes a similar illness to other forms of Salmonella infection and symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. The 30 cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland ranged in age from six months to 85 years. One person has died although they had serious underlying health complications. Seventy per cent of cases were women with the East of England having more cases than other regions.
Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at the HPA said: “Although it’s too soon to say with certainty what the likely cause of infection is, early indications suggest that a number of people became unwell after eating watermelon. This has also been noted in the cases in Scotland and Germany although further investigation is ongoing.
“It’s important to remember the risk of becoming unwell after eating watermelon is very low. These cases only represent a very small proportion of total consumption. It is always advisable to wash fruits and vegetables – including watermelon – before consumption to reduce the risk of possible illness.
“Colleagues from the Food Standards Agency are part of the outbreak control team and they are working with us to identify the source of this outbreak.”
Salmonella Newport has been found in many different foods in previous UK outbreaks - the largest one was in 2004 and was associated with the consumption of lettuce at restaurants and takeaways.
1. Confirmed cases:
• England - 26
• Wales - 3
• Northern Ireland - 1
• Scotland - 5
• Republic of Ireland - 4
• Germany – 15
2. About Salmonella Newport:
Q. What is Salmonella Newport?
There are over 2,500 different types of Salmonella species and Salmonella Newport causes a similar illness to other forms of Salmonella infection.
As with most Salmonella strains it affects the stomach and intestines. Most cases resolve within four to seven days but some people may need a course of antibiotics. Complications can include septicaemia (blood poisoning) or a localised infection e.g. septic arthritis.
Q. How many cases of this kind of Salmonella do you normally see in England, Wales and Northern Ireland each year?
Previous figures for the number of cases of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport that the HPA have recorded in previous years are:
Ave: 197 (5 year average)
Q. What has caused this outbreak?
Very early indications suggest that the recent increase in cases may be linked to the consumption of watermelon. In November 2011, as part of a local food survey, the HPA identified Salmonella Newport from a ready-to-eat sliced watermelon.
Subsequently a number of people who became unwell were found to be infected with the same strain of Salmonella Newport identified in the survey watermelon sample. In addition 10 of the 15 cases who have been followed up by telephone interview reported eating watermelon in the three days prior to the onset of their symptoms.
The HPA is liaising with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and colleagues in the Devolved administrations to investigate this outbreak. The FSA work with the food industry to ensure that our food is safe to eat and they will take any necessary actions to remove unsafe food from the supply chain.
Q. How would the Salmonella infection contaminate the infected food?
There are two possible routes of infection. Firstly, the surface of the melons could have been contaminated with Salmonella bacteria and this may have transferred onto the flesh of the melon during the cutting process. Secondly, if the melons were stored or washed in contaminated water, the Salmonella bacteria could have got into the flesh of the melon through the cut stem.
Q: Have there been previous outbreaks of Salmonella Newport in Europe?
Yes, there was an outbreak in 2011 in Germany and the Netherlands but this strain was different from that which we are currently seeing and the cause was bean sprouts.
It is not uncommon that the source of outbreaks is not identified because many foods contain multiple ingredients and identifying which is the contaminated component is very difficult.
There have been outbreaks in different parts of the world which have been caused by foods such as alfalfa sprouts.
Q: What does the HPA do to investigate outbreaks of Salmonella?
If there is an outbreak then the first evidence will be an increase in the number of samples that come from GP surgeries for testing.
The HPA would then have to establish whether this was an outbreak or whether there could be any other explanation for the increase in cases.
• Are the cases coming from abroad?
• Have the samples been misclassified in the lab?
• Is there a lab backlog of samples so it appears there is a peak when there is not?
If it still appears there is an outbreak then structured food questionnaires are sent to the affected patients. These would include descriptive data including personal details of the patients, clinical histories, household details, what food they had eaten in the three days before becoming ill and where it was bought, their food preferences and travel histories.
After this a number of patients would receive follow up phone calls to see if there are any links between them. To ensure objectivity there will be a group of patients who are unwell and a group who are not – the controls. Based on the evidence from the questionnaires and the telephone interviews if it appears the outbreak is foodborne then an Outbreak Control Team is established. The HPA would then work with other organisations to prevent other people becoming unwell including the Food Standards Agency and Environmental Health.
For more information on Salmonella, please visit our website:
3. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013, subject to the usual approvals procedures for establishing new bodies, the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: www.hpa.org.uk or follow us on Twitter@HPAuk.
4. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email email@example.com. Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.
If you would like to read more on the 2004 outbreak of salmonella newport associated with lettuce please click here
How to wash fruit and vegetables link to NHS website
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