Have a question? Call 020 3371 1516 | Enrol now on any course and pay later!
  • Twitter
  • Google+

Food hygiene blog

European wide action against fraudulent practices in the tuna fish industry

Operation Opson- European wide action against fraudulent practices in the tuna fish industry


During OPSON VII, an EU coordinated action was run with the support of the EU Food Fraud Network across 11 European countries in order to detect fraudulent practices pertaining to tuna fish. This was the first time that such an action was carried out on a specific product.

The illicit practices included substitution and fraudulently selling tuna intended for canning as fresh. In this case, the tuna intended for canning was illegally treated with vegetable extracts containing high concentration of nitrites that altered its colour to give the misleading impression of its freshness. This can represent a serious risk to public health, taking into account that the modification of the initial colour can mask spoilage allowing the development of histamine responsible for the scombroid syndrome in humans. In total more than 51 tonnes of tuna were seized and more than 380 samples were taken.

Justice, police, customs and food experts were mobilised to investigate and to ensure the success of this operation in which 11 countries (Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) were involved. In some countries investigations took place on fishing vessels and in processing plants when, in other participating countries, extensive sample plans took place at distribution and retail levels.

In Scotland, the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) at Food Standards Scotland co-ordinated a European partnership approach involving the Food Standards Agency and a number of EU member states to undertake sampling and analysis of tuna. This amounted to samples being taken around Scotland by Officers from Environmental Health services in several local authorities.

Spain and France are also conducting judicial inquiries into tuna destined for canning and sold as fresh and on the illegal use of additives, however the results of which cannot be disclosed at this moment.

Operation OPSON is an international initiative co-ordinated by Europol and Interpol to encourage participating countries to hold a focused period of activity against illicit, counterfeit and sub-standard food.


This policy covers the treatment of personally identifiable information that Kitchen Tonic collects when you are using our services. Here you will find details of our privacy practices and what we do to maintain your right to privacy.


Information Collection and Use


You can visit our website and use many of the services without telling us who you are or giving us any personally identifiable information. Kitchen Tonic may use cookies for the smooth running of the site but does not use the information collected to match to your individual identity.

It is only when you complete a form that requests personal information or e-mail, phone or write to Kitchen Tonic that you can be identified. We only collect the information we ask from you that you give us, and consent to it being processed for the purposes of delivering courses and student registrations, exam results and to issue certificates.


Where we collect your information


  • An application form to become a trainer
  • When you book on a course
  • Student registration forms
  • Pre course information
  • Phone conversations
  • Emails or letters you send us
  • Candidate course/result submissions 
  • Online bookings and payments


What we use this information for

Kitchen Tonic may use the information you provide in pursuit of our legitimate interests to provide you with services from Kitchen Tonic.  This includes some or all of the following:

  • to manage applications, registrations and any enquiries you have submitted to us.
  • to manage course registrations and issue pre course information
  • to issue exam results and award qualifications
  • to keep a record of candidates examination/certification entries in the context of quality assurance, certificate verification and to provide post-result services
  • to fulfill your request for information or services
  • as input to improving our services and to inform you of improvements

If you do not wish us to collect and use your personal information in these ways it may mean that we will be unable to provide you with information and services.

Kitchen Tonic will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone for commercial reasons. Kitchen Tonic will only send personally identifiable information about you to other companies when we have your consent, such as the RSPH Awarding Body. This is only necessary when we need to share your information in order to provide the information or service requested, e.g. gaining a qualification. We use your personal information for payment, and invoicing which may be provided by third parties. 

We are required as the RSPH centres to securely store the following records for up to three years: 


  • Learner records 
  • Information relating to any appeals
  • Information relating to reasonable adjustment and special considerations 
  • Paperwork relating to internally verified assessments (if applicable) 
  • Evidence that used examination papers have been securely destroyed 
  • Information relating to malpractice allegations 
  • Examiner and invigilator CVs (you may need to keep these for a longer period if these are employed for longer than three years) 
  • Examination seating plans 


We may also wish to keep copies of any feedback forms that you have submitted – how long these are held for is up to you. RSPH do not stipulate what format the data needs to be kept in – hard copy or electronic is fine as long as it is accessible. Our feedback forms submitted to you after exams, can be handed in anonymously. We generally keep these forms for 6 months to one year. These forms are valuable to help us improve our services to you. 



We may send you emails informing you of new services, changes to courses, special offers and new courses, or other services we offer. We do not use a third party company to do this. If you no longer wish Kitchen Tonic to contact you, please email info@kitchentonic.com


Our website uses cookies. By using our website and agreeing to this policy, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with the terms of this policy.


About cookies

A cookie is a file containing an identifier (a string of letters and numbers) that is sent by a web server to a web browser, and stored by the browser. The identifier is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.

Cookies can be used by web servers to identify and track users as they navigate different pages on a website and to identify users returning to a website.

Cookies may be either “persistent” cookies or “session” cookies. A persistent cookie consists of a text file sent by a web server to a web browser, which will be stored by the browser and will remain valid until its set expiry date (unless deleted by the user before the expiry date). A session cookie, on the other hand, will expire at the end of the user session, when the web browser is closed.


Cookies on this website

We use both session cookies and persistent cookies on this website.

How we use cookies

Cookies do not contain any information that personally identifies you, but personal information that we store about you may be linked, by us, to the information stored in and obtained from cookies.

We may use the information we obtain from your use of our cookies for the following purposes:


  • to recognise your computer when you visit our website;
  • to track you as you navigate our website;
  • to improve the website’s usability;
  • to analyse the use of our website;
  • in the administration of this website;

Third party cookies


When you use our website, you may also be sent third party cookies. Our service providers may send you cookies. They may use the information they obtain from your use of their cookies. We use Google Analytics to analyse the use of this website. Google Analytics generates statistical and other information about website use by means of cookies, which are stored on users’ computers. The information generated relating to our website is used to create reports about the use of the website. Google will store this information. Google’s privacy policy is available at: http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html.


Blocking cookies

Most browsers allow you to refuse to accept cookies. For example: in Internet Explorer you can refuse all cookies by clicking “Tools”, “Internet Options”, “Privacy”, and selecting “Block all cookies” using the sliding selector; in Firefox you can block all cookies by clicking “Tools”, “Options”, and un-checking “Accept cookies from sites” in the “Privacy” box.

Blocking all cookies will, however have a negative impact upon the usability of many websites.

Deleting cookies

You can also delete cookies already stored on your computer: in Internet Explorer, you must manually delete cookie files (you can find instructions for doing so at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/278835 )  in Firefox, you can delete cookies by, first ensuring that cookies are to be deleted when you “clear private data” (this setting can be changed by clicking “Tools”, “Options” and “Settings” in the “Private Data” box) and then clicking “Clear private data” in the “Tools” menu. Doing this may have a negative impact on the usability of many websites.

Your rights

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (effective from 25 May 2018) you have the following rights:

  • The right to be informed
  • The right of access
  • The right to rectification
  • The right to erasure
  • The right to restrict processing
  • The right to data portability
  • The right to object
  • Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling


You can find more information about these rights on the Information Commissioners Website (ICO).You exercise your rights by submitting a Subject Access Request. If you would like to exercise any of your rights under GDPR and need assistance, please email our Data Protection Officer on info@kitchentonic.com

Subject Access Request.

Under GDPR, individuals are entitled, subject to certain exceptions, to request access to information held about them. This is called a Subject Access Request.

Subject Access Requests should be made by email or in writing addressed to the Data Protection Officer (DPO) at info@kitchentonic.com The DPO can supply a standard request form, although you do not have to use this.

The information that you are entitled to is:

  • What information the company holds about you and why
  • How you can gain access to it.
  • How to keep it up to date
  • How the company is meeting its data protection obligations

The DPO will always verify the identity of anyone making a subject access request before handing over any personal information. The DPO will require photo ID and/or proof of address. Our aim to provide the relevant information to you within 30 days.

Your right to complain about us

If you are dissatisfied with our handling of your requests about the protection of your data you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). To report a concern to the ICO click this link

Privacy policy updates

We may update this Privacy Policy from time to time, to ensure full compliance with the current and any future GDPR regulations. 

How to Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding this statement, or the information we collect or use about you please contact DPO Kitchen Tonic, 26 Central Chambers, Ealing, London, W5 2NR or info@kitchentonic.com



Distinctions for our Level 4 Food Safety Candidates

We started delivering the new RSPH Level 4 Food Safety Qualification earlier this year. This involved updating our course content and getting prepared for the new exam formats. There was a lot of work to prepare prior to enrolling out first students. 

The exam now consists of a controlled assignment and a synoptic exam, both hand written assignments. In addition to this, candidates are given 10 minutes to write about their place of work, before they start answering the exam papers. 


In Feb 2018, we ran our first new format course. Candidates sat their exam in March. This gave the candidates time to absorb the course information, revise and practice answering the controlled assignments. 

We were delighted to recieve the results earlier this week (1st week of May 2018) informing us that our candidates achieved distinctions. To achieve a distinction, candidates must achieve 80%. They did that and more! 

Congratulations to all and we wish our candidates all the best for the future. 

New research on preventing the spread of norovirus (winter vomiting bug)

The literature review identified 5 strategies for controlling norovirus:

  1. Personal hygiene 
  2. Food handling
  3. Washing and cooking food
  4. Surface and uniform cleaning
  5. Fitness to work

Visits to food catering establishments involved in-depth interviews, surveys, and structured environmental and behavioural observations.

Strongest evidence was found for: 

  • inadequate hand washing; 
  • not washing hands before gloving; 
  • using bare hands when preparing food;
  • not regularly changing gloves; 
  • food handlers instead of trained staff cleaning areas where people vomited; 
  • not washing uniform correctly; 
  • and returning to work too early after being ill. 

Data analysis and behavioural theories were used to rank behaviours which risk spreading Norovirus in relation to the control strategies, according to the strength of evidence that food handlers were expressing these behaviours. 


Next steps

Several behavioural interventions were recommended based on the findings. Just as one example: strong evidence indicated inadequate knowledge of how to stop Norovirus spreading, so educational training for food handlers was highly recommended. FSA is exploring the design and delivery of future interventions.

Read the reports on the Food Standards Agency website

Source: Food Standards Agency

Sell by, Best Before, Use By, Display Until dates

Best Before and Use By dates on food and drink

What is shelf-life?

Shelf-life is the period of time during which a food maintains its acceptable or desirable characteristics under specified storage and handling conditions. These acceptable or desirable characteristics can be related to the safety or quality of the product and can be microbiological, chemical or physical in nature.


Under European legislation (Regulation (EU) No.1169/2011) shelf-life is referred to as the “date of minimum durability”. 


What is the date of minimum durability?

Regulation (EU) No.1169/2011requires that the shelf-life of a foodstuff be indicated by either a date of minimum durability (‘best before’) or a ‘use by’ date. 


What is the difference between a ‘best before’ and a ‘use by’ date?

The date of minimum durability, or ‘best before’ date, is the date until which a foodstuff retains its specific properties e.g. taste, aroma, appearance, any specific qualities which relate to the product, vitamin content etc. when the product has been stored appropriately and the package unopened. 


Typically, a ‘best before’ date is used for food products such as canned, dried, ambient, frozen foods etc. Many foods that are past their ‘best before’ date may be safe to eat, but their quality may have deteriorated.


In the case of foods, which from a microbiological point of view, are highly perishable and are therefore likely after a short period to constitute an immediate danger to human health, the date of minimum durability must be replaced by the ‘use by’ date. The ‘use by’ is the date up until which a food may be used safely i.e. consumed, cooked or processed, once it has been stored correctly. After the ‘use by’ date a food is deemed unsafe in accordance with article 14(2) of Regulation EC No. 178/2002 and cannot be sold.


Typically, a ‘use by’ date is used for fresh, ready-to-eat and chilled foods such as yogurt, milk, meat, unpasteurised fruit juices etc. 


An exception to this is raw, shell eggs which require a ‘best before’ date as set out in Regulation (EC) No. 589/2008 as regards marketing standards for eggs.


Who decides if a product requires a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date?

The food business operator (usually the manufacturer or producer) attaching a label to a food product is responsible for deciding whether a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date is required for declaration of its shelf-life. 



When should this decision be taken?

The decision as to whether a food requires a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date should be taken when the food manufacturer or producer is developing their food safety management system, based on HACCP principles, for the product. It is strongly recommended that the food manufacturer or producer document this process.


Food business operators who receive bulk food product and subsequently break it down and repackage it, are now responsible for ensuring that the information provided relating to this product, including its shelf-life, is correct, under Article 8 of Regulation (EU) No.1169/2011. 


If changes are made to the information provided, for example the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, these may only be made provided such modifications do not mislead the final consumer or otherwise reduce the level of consumer protection and the possibilities for the final consumer to make informed choices. The FBOs are responsible for any changes they make to the food information accompanying a food.


Do all foods require a shelf-life declaration?

No, a shelf-life declaration i.e. a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, is not required for the following foods:

Fresh fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, which have not been peeled, cut or similarly treated. However, this does not apply to sprouting seeds and similar products such as legume sprouts which do require a date of minimum durability

Wines, liqueur wines, sparkling wines, aromatised wines, and similar products obtained from fruit other than grapes, and beverages falling within CN code 2206 00 obtained from grapes or grape musts

Beverages containing 10 % or more by volume of alcohol

Bakers’ or pastry cooks’ wares which, given the nature of their content, are normally consumed within 24 hours of their manufacture 


Cooking salt

Solid sugar

Confectionery products consisting almost solely of flavoured and/or coloured sugars

Chewing gums and similar chewing products.


Are there other forms of expressing shelf-life used on food products?  

Some FBOs, in addition to a declaring a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, will label food products with terms such as ‘sell by’, ‘expires on’, ‘eat by’, ‘display until’ etc. followed by an appropriate date. These types of labels are sometimes used by food businesses for stock control purposes. From a consumer point of view, when checking shelf-life, only a ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date need to be considered.


How does a business decide if a food needs a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date?

In order to determine whether a product requires a 'best before' or 'use by' date, food businesses can use a decision tree. 

Source: Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Syndicate content