Thursday, July 28, 2011

BRC Issue 6

BRC Issue 6 Training

Outsource Solution will be providing BRC Issue 6 training. The training courses will start in September after we have completed the Train the Trainer issue 6 course which is one of the first to be run. Training can be provided as BRC approved training or as general awareness training. Although the standard has reduced in the number of clauses there are some significant changes in relation how audits will be conducted. In addition to the detail changes in the standard, we will be giving an insight into what can be expected in relation to the audits which are set to challenge your systems significantly more than previously. Certification bodies have now also been given KPIs with BRC and this will also affect how your audit will be conducted. This and much more will be provided at the training courses.

If you would like to pre book training for mid September on wards please contact us through our contact page below or email

Duncan Perry

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ecoli0104 in Europe

EFSA publishes report from its Task Force on the E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Germany and France in 2011 and makes further recommendations to protect consumers
Press Release
5 July 2011

The EFSA Task Force established to coordinate investigations to track down the possible source of the French and German outbreaks of E. coli O104:H4 has concluded that one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt and used to produce sprouts is the most likely common link between the two outbreaks. However, it cannot be excluded that other lots of fenugreek imported from Egypt during the period 2009-2011 may be implicated. Based on these findings, EFSA recommends to the European Commission that all efforts be made to prevent any further consumer exposure to the suspect seeds and that forward tracing be carried out in all countries which may have received seeds from the concerned lots. In this context, EFSA continues to advise consumers not to grow sprouts for their own consumption and not to eat sprouts or sprouted seeds unless they have been cooked thoroughly.

In response to an urgent request from the European Commission regarding the ongoing outbreaks of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC), serotype O104:H4, EFSA set up a Task Force on 26 June 2011 to provide immediate scientific assistance. EFSA scientists were joined on the Task Force by officials and experts from the European Commission, relevant EU Member States, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Since May 2011, an outbreak of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) has been ongoing in Germany, though the number of new cases is rapidly decreasing. On 24 June 2011, French authorities reported an E. coli outbreak in the region of Bordeaux. Since the start of these outbreaks, there have been a large number of patients with bloody diarrhoea caused by STEC and an unusually high proportion of these have developed haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). To date, the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak is responsible for 48 deaths in Germany and one in Sweden. The total number of cases reported in the EU, Norway and Switzerland is 4,178[1].

The analysis of information from the French and German outbreaks leads to the conclusion that an imported lot of fenugreek seeds which was used to grow sprouts imported from Egypt by a German importer, is the most likely common link but other lots may be implicated. The report highlights that negative results from microbiological tests carried out on seeds cannot be interpreted as proof that a lot is not contaminated with STEC.

In light of the findings from the ongoing investigation and the conclusions of the tracing back exercise leading to fenugreek seeds as the most likely common link between the German and French outbreaks, EFSA considers that its previous advice issued jointly with ECDC on 29 June with respect to consumer protection remains valid. As seeds sold for sprouting are often sold as seed mixes and cross-contamination cannot be excluded, it is important that consumers are advised not to grow sprouts for their own consumption, and also not to eat sprouts or sprouted seeds unless they have been cooked thoroughly. This advice will be kept under review in the light of developments.

In a letter to the European Commission, EFSA outlines the principal conclusions of its report and identifies several recommendations related to preventing possible consumer exposure to the suspect seeds as well as the value of carrying out a risk assessment on sprout production and processing in view of further protecting public health.

Technical report of EFSA: Tracing seeds, in particular fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds, in relation to the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O104:H4 2011 Outbreaks in Germany and France
FAQ on Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Food Technical Managers

Food Technical Managers

We have had a number of enquiries regarding Food Technical Positions. These are from both food manufacturing companies and from individuals looking for new technical positions. These enquiries have generally been in Scotland. We are happy to try and match companies with Technical staff that are looking for employment.
Let us know and we try to assist.

German Ecoli Outbreak

Lessons from the German E. Coli Outbreak
Episode highlights need to identify virulence gene, scientist says
Germany’s recent enormous E. coli outbreak points to the need to better identify and understand the virulence genes involved with this pathogen, said Pina Fratamico, PhD, a lead researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Food Safety who has worked to draw attention to lesser-known types of E. coli.

So far, 36 people have died and more than 3,000 have been sickened in the outbreak, which was originally blamed on cucumbers grown in northern Spain but has apparently been traced to contaminated sprouts from Germany. The strain of E. coli involved, 0104:H4, has never been associated with a significant foodborne outbreak. More than 700 of the cases so far have progressed to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is usually only seen in about 7% of E. coli cases, according to Dr. Fratamico.

Genome sequencing conducted in China suggests that the bacterium is a type of hybrid that combines multiple virulence factors. While it carries the Shiga toxin 2 gene, it probably did not start out as a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC, Dr. Fratamico said. “It’s lacking the eae gene and the hemolysin gene, which are found in most enterohemorrhagic E. coli,” she said. “That suggests that it probably started out as an enteroaggregative form of E. coli and picked up the Shiga toxin 2 gene through horizontal gene transfer. It probably also has other virulence genes that we’ll find out more about.”

And that, Dr. Fratamico said, underscores an essential avenue for future E. coli research. “Serogroup is important, but equally important, if not more so, is understanding what all the key virulence genes are. We can’t just look for [shiga toxin-producing E. coli]. Had we done a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] assay looking just for the combination of Shiga toxin and eae genes, which is common, we would have missed this strain.” (In fact, that’s what happened with the original STEC assays that inaccurately pinned the outbreak on Spanish cucumbers, which were contaminated with E. coli, just not with this particular supertoxin.)

Could the new hybrid strain of E. coli, which apparently originated in the Central African Republic, pop up again in Europe or elsewhere? It’s certainly possible, Dr. Fratamico said. “We need to understand what the reservoir is … how it gets into food, and what the characteristics of the strain are in detail to better know whether it is likely to happen again,” she said

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Large outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome caused by E. coli in Germany – important advice for travellers

Large outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome caused by E. coli in Germany – important advice for travellers
26 May 2011

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware that Germany is currently experiencing a large outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which is a serious complication from verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) infection that requires hospitalisation. Since the second week of May, there have been reports of approximately 214 cases of HUS and two people are reported to have died.

The outbreak is mainly affecting adults - almost 70 per cent of who are female. The cases are occurring mainly in northern Germany, but there are also reports from southern and eastern Germany.

This strain of VTEC infection suspected in this outbreak is O104 which is a rare strain of the infection and seldom seen in the UK.

England has so far seen two cases in German nationals with compatible symptoms. Other European countries have also seen cases of HUS and bloody diarrhoea among returning travellers.

The German authorities believe that a food source of infection is likely, and, early studies implicate raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Although it is not clear whether one or more of these food items are associated with the outbreak, as a precaution they are advising people in Germany against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, especially in the north of the country, until further notice.

The HPA and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) advises anyone travelling to Germany to follow the advice from the German authorities. In addition, returning travellers with illness including bloody diarrhoea should seek urgent medical attention and make sure they mention any recent travel history.

The public health organisation in Germany investigating the outbreak also recommend following the standard food and water hygiene advice.

Dr Dilys Morgan, head of the gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic infections department at the HPA, said: "The HPA is actively monitoring the situation very carefully and liaising with the authorities in Germany, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as to the cause of the outbreak.

"We are keeping a close watch for potential cases reported in England and are working with colleagues in the devolved administrations to recommend they do the same. In addition we are in the process of alerting health professionals to the situation and advising them to urgently investigate potential cases with a travel history to Germany."

The HPA is also working closely with the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency. The FSA is monitoring the situation closely and if there are any implications for food distributed in the UK they will provide an update.


Notes to editors:

1. In this outbreak many more people are suspected to have bloody diarrhoea, which can be serious, or milder forms of the infection which are usually self limiting and clears within seven days. The public health organisation investigating the outbreak in Germany is the Robert Koch Institute

2. Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) is a serious complication from verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) infection that affects the blood, kidneys and in severe cases, the central nervous system. It is a serious illness that requires treatment in hospital and can be fatal.

3. The number of severe cases of HUS in a short period is very unusual and the affected age groups in this outbreak are not typical – HUS is a more common complication from E. coli infection in children.

4. Escherichia coli (commonly referred to as E coli) bacteria usually cause diarrhoea which settles within seven days without treatment. There are many strains of the infection. Occasionally, serious kidney and blood complications can occur, such as HUS.

5. Most people normally carry harmless strains of E. coli in their intestine. Both the harmless strains and the strains that cause diarrhoea are acquired primarily through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Person-to-person and animal-to-human transmission is through the oral-faecal route.

6. Good hygiene is very important in preventing person-to person spread and small children should be supervised with hand washing after using the toilet and before eating. Advice on food safety can be found on the NHS Choices website:

7. Verocytotoxin- producing E. coli (VTEC) O104 is a rare serogroup and further testing of samples is needed to confirm this as the cause of the outbreak. Reports from Germany refer to the VTEC cases as cases of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). VTEC is also sometimes called Entrohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

8. Healthcare professionals and members of the public can find more information about travel health (including country specific advice) by logging onto the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website

9. 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. It does this by providing advice and information to the general public, to health professionals such as doctors and nurses, and to national and local government. In 2012 the HPA will become part of Public Health England. To find out more, visit our website:

10. For media enquiries please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 020 8327 7901 or email Out of hours the duty press office can be contacted on 020 8200 4400

Sunday, February 06, 2011

HACCP Level 3, Issue 6 BRC, ISO22000

The next course dates have been set.

Intermediate Level 3 HACCP course:- 31st March and 1st April

50% funding could be available, see below.

The above course will be running at Linlithgow Rugby Club and will run from 0900 to 1700 each day.

The HACCP level 3 RSPH certificated course has plenty of work shop activities and is completed with a 1.5 hour exam set by RSPH. The course aims to ensure that delegates gather the necessary skills and confidence to be able to originate or contribute to HACCP studies. Currently over 50% of delegates attending this course with us have been achieving distinction level. The course includes all the workshop materials and templates, Carol Wallace course book as well as lunch and refreshments both days. Cost £550 + VAT per delegate.

The New Issue 6 BRC standard is to be published in July and we will be reviewing the draft in March. All BRC and QMS training will now be focused towards the imminent changes.

ISO22000 training is also going to become available in April 2011.

Funding maybe available up to 50% through the following link to skills development Scotland:-

Let us know if you wish to attend the scheduled level 3 HACCP course or would like to attend the first of the BRC Issue 6 Implementation or Internal Auditing Courses in the coming months.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Dioxins in Eggs

German authorities have blocked meat and eggs sales from some 4,700 farms across the country after it was revealed that chickens and pigs had eaten feed contaminated with dangerous levels of dioxins.

What are dioxins and why are they dangerous?

According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are a group of highly toxic, chemically-related compounds.

Dioxins can occur through natural processes but they are mainly the by-products of industrial processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides.

Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment. The highest levels of these compounds are found in some soils, sediments and food, especially dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish.

The higher in the animal food chain, the higher the concentration - and danger - of dioxins.

Once dioxins have entered the human body, they endure a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored.

They can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and cause cancer.

How did the dioxins enter the food chain in Germany?

According to the European Union, the incident began when fatty acids meant to be used for industrial processes - from a biodiesel company - were mixed with vegetable feed fat, used to make food for animals.

The contaminated feed was distributed to several farms in Germany, and consumed by pigs and hens whose meat and eggs now have levels of dioxins higher that those allowed under EU law. Most of the affected farms are pig farms in Germany's Lower Saxony region.

Some of the eggs were sent to a processing plant in the Netherlands, and a 14-tonne consignment of pasteurised egg has been sent on to the UK, where it may have entered the food chain.

EU authorities say they were first informed about the incident by Germany on 27 December 2010. But the first message only referred to one consignment - 26 tonnes - of contaminated feed. By 3 January 2011, German officials realised that the contamination was much bigger - a total of nine consignments - delivered to 25 feed manufacturers.

However, the state agriculture ministry in Schleswig-Holstein says the dioxin alert began even earlier. It says the company where the contaminated oils originated - Harles und Jentzsch - carried out a test in March 2010, which revealed that dioxin levels were twice the permitted level. The company is alleged not to have informed the authorities of this.

However, some test results released later by the ministry showed the fat of the feed contained 77 times the approved amount of dioxin.

Why is the rest of Europe worried?

Europe's food production and processing systems are highly integrated, meaning that tracing which food products have been contaminated, and where, can be complex.

Because of this, the EU says that the best way to prevent human exposure is to strictly control industrial processes to limit the formation of dioxins.

The EU has warned that eggs from farms affected by dioxins have entered the UK in processed products destined for human consumption. The eggs had been sent to the Netherlands for processing and then on to the UK in liquid form where, the BBC has learnt, they have been used by two manufacturers of cakes and quiches.

But this isn't the first time there has been a dioxin-related food scare in Europe, is it?

No, there have been several. In Italy, for example, in early 2008, worries about the levels of dioxins in the buffalo milk used to make some mozzarella cheese led Japan and South Korea to cancel orders. There were allegations that waste incineration in the region around Naples might have led to the higher levels of the carcinogens in the cheese.

Later that same year, all pork products made in the Irish Republic were recalled after it was discovered that some pork contained more than 200 times the acceptable level of dioxins. The pigs were thought to have eaten contaminated feed. A few months later, some 7,000 cattle on 10 Northern Ireland farms were culled because because of fears of dioxin contamination.

How dangerous are the levels of dioxins found?

Authorities in Germany are emphasising that they have closed the farms and blocked sales as a precautionary measure and that all meat, poultry and eggs are safe to eat.

The EU has said that although the eggs found on affected farms in Germany had five times the legal limit of the chemical, consumers would have to eat vast quantities of eggs, or processed products made with these eggs, in order for the dioxins to pose a risk to human health.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

HACCP and Internal Audit Training

The next course dates have been set.

Intermediate Level 3 HACCP course:- 24th and 25th January

British Retail Consortium Internal Auditing Course:- 26th January

The above courses will be running at Linlithgow Rugby Club and will run from 0900 to 1700 each day.

The HACCP level 3 RSPH certificated course has plenty of work shop activities and is completed with a 1.5 hour exam set by RSPH. The course aims to ensure that delegates gather the necessary skills and confidence to be able to originate or contribute to HACCP studies. Currently over 50% of delegates attending this course with us have been achieving distinction level. The course includes all the workshop materials and templates, Carol Wallace course book as well as lunch and refreshments both days. Cost £550 + VAT per delegate.

The Internal Auditing course aims to fulfil the requirements of auditing a BRC Food Standard Quality Management System, Issue 5. It is a one day course covering the key areas that should be in the scope of an internal audit schedule as well as auditing skills and approaches. The course also has some workshop activities to highlight key points in the syllabus. This course is attendance only and is certificated by Outsource Solution Ltd. The course includes all the workshop materials, lunch and refreshments. Cost £250 + VAT per delegate.

Details of both courses are attached as well as a map hyperlink on the HACCP course information. There is plenty of free parking. Should you wish to attend we can make hotel suggestions if required and provide contact information.

Let us know if either of these courses are of interest