Last updated on 15 February 2011
E.coli O157: control of cross-contamination
The Food Standards Agency has issued guidance for food businesses to clarify the steps that they need to take to control the risk of food becoming contaminated by E.coli O157 and what businesses should be doing to protect their customers.
The guidance can also be used by local authority food safety officers when inspecting businesses in their area.
This guidance has been developed in response to the serious outbreaks of E.coli O157 in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005, which were attributed to cross-contamination arising from poor handling of food.
Although E.coli is the key focus of this guidance, the measures outlined will also help in the control of other bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella.
Some of the key measures highlighted in the guidance to control E.coli are:
- Identification of separate work areas, surfaces and equipment for raw and ready-to-eat food.
- Use of separate complex equipment, such as vacuum-packing machines, slicers, and mincers for raw and ready-to-eat food.
- Handwashing should be carried out using a recognised technique. Anti-bacterial gels must not be used instead of thorough handwashing.
- Disinfectants and sanitisers must meet officially recognised standards and should be used as instructed by the manufacturer.
The full guidance, developed following a public consultation and Professor Hugh Pennington’s report into the 2005 E.coli outbreak, can be found at the link below, along with a factsheet for businesses, which summarises the guidance.