HPS Weekly Report
10 Jul 2018
Volume 52 No. 27
Listeriosis outbreak – EU member states (update)
On 3 July 2018, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued an update on the multi-country Listeria monocytogenes outbreak. Frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables are the likely source of the outbreak, which has affected Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom since 2015 (see current note 52/1202).
The same strains of L. monocytogenes have been detected in frozen vegetables produced by the same Hungarian company in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This suggests that the strains have persisted in the processing plant despite the cleaning and disinfection procedures that have been carried out. Further investigations are needed to identify the exact points of environmental contamination at the Hungarian plant.
On 29 June 2018, the Hungarian National Food Chain Safety Office (NFCSO) banned the marketing of all frozen vegetable and frozen mixed vegetable products produced by the affected plant between August 2016 and June 2018, and ordered their immediate withdrawal and recall. All freezing activity at the plant has stopped.
As of 8 June 2018, 47 cases including nine deaths had been reported in total. Public Health England (PHE) is working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and Health Protection Scotland (HPS) to identify the cause of 11 cases in the UK.
To reduce the risk of infection, consumers should thoroughly cook non ready-to-eat frozen vegetables, even though these products are commonly consumed without cooking. This advice is especially important to those with the highest risk of contracting listeriosis – such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants and adults with weakened immune systems. Advice issued by PHE, FSS, FSA and HPS on the proper cooking of frozen vegetables is available to view on the FSA website.
The current list of recalled frozen vegetable products is also available to view on the FSA website. Updates to this list are being made as and when they become available in the news and alerts section of the FSA website.
Source: EFSA, 3 July 2018
PHE statement on incident in Amesbury
On July 4 2018, Public Health England (PHE) issued a statement on the major incident declared in Amesbury, which has resulted in one adult death and one further adult remaining critically ill in hospital, after exposure to the nerve agent novichok. It is not yet known whether the nerve agent came from the same batch used in an earlier contamination event in Salisbury (see current note 52/1006).
PHE confirm that the risk to the public is low. They will issue further information as and when it becomes available. As a highly precautionary measure, PHE recommend that people who visited five locations in the surrounding area wash any clothes and clean any other items they had with them.
Source: PHE, 4 July 2018
EEA publish water quality report
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report on the quality of Europe’s water. The report finds that EU member states have made marked efforts to improve water quality, by improving wastewater treatment and lowering the runoff of pollutants from farmland. Measures have also been taken to make barriers passable to migrating fish as well as efforts to restore degraded aquatic ecosystems.
While Europe’s ground water bodies, like aquifers, are in good health in most cases, only 40% of monitored lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters achieved the EU Water Framework Directive’s minimum ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status during the 2010-2015 monitoring period.
The report gives an updated health check on over 130,000 surface and groundwater bodies monitored by EU member states, based on the data collected and reported from more than 160 River Basin Management Plans covering the period 2010 to 2015.
Source: EEA, 3 July 2018
New guidance on nanotechnologies in food and feed
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published guidance on human and animal health aspects of the risk assessment of nanoscience and nanotechnology applications in the food and feed chain. The guidance gives practical suggestions on the types of testing that are needed and the methods that can be applied. It covers areas such as novel foods, food contact materials, food and feed additives and pesticides.
The guidance has now entered a pilot phase with the hope that it will be finalised by the end of 2019. Additionally, a second guidance will be developed in 2019 focusing on environmental risk assessment of nanoscience and nanotechnology applications in the food and feed chain.
Source: EFSA, 4 July 2018
Food enzymes: EFSA launches DIY exposure tool
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Food Enzyme Intake Model (FEIM), a tool for estimating chronic dietary exposure to food enzymes used in different food processes.
FEIM follows the methodology recommended in 2016 by EFSA’s panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF). It has been developed on the basis of actual food consumption data collected by member states and stored in the EFSA Comprehensive Food Comsumption Database.
The user-friendly tool allows applicants, risk assessors and risk managers to estimate dietary exposure to food enzymes used in individual food manufacturing processes, such as baking or brewing. It will be updated annually as more process specific calculators are generated.
Source: EFSA, 4 July 2018
Ready Scotland updates heatwave advice
As the recent spell of warm weather continues, Ready Scotland has updated their advice on how to stay safe in the sun, near water, when travelling, or when enjoying the outdoors. The update provides a number of hints and tips, as well as linking out to more detailed information on other websites, including NHS Inform, Scottish Water, and Health Protection Scotland.
Consultation: guidance on protecting the public from radioactive contamination in land
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation looking at how to improve the protection of the public from radioactive contamination in land. The consultation includes proposed changes to the current guidance for the Radioactive Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations, to include broader best practice guidance alongside the existing statutory guidance to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Consultation: developing an environment strategy for Scotland
A Scottish Government online discussion seeking input to the development of an environment strategy for Scotland opened on 29 June 2018.
This consultation takes forward a commitment in the 2017-2018 Programme for Government to develop a strategic approach on environmental policy to protect and enhance the environment, safeguard natural capital and continue Scotland’s leading role in addressing environmental challenges.
Responses to this consultation will help to inform the development of an environment strategy for Scotland, which is due to be published in late 2018.
The regulation and governance of medical devices in Scotland
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has published a research briefing on the regulation and governance of medical devices in Scotland. In recent years, there has been considerable public concern over the safety of some medical devices and an increase in the number of medical devices subject to recall. This briefing looks at the regulation and governance of medical devices in Scotland. It also looks towards the future of medical device regulation in light of the UK’s anticipated departure from the EU regulatory framework following Brexit.
The content covers:
- what are medical devices?
- how are medical devices regulated?
- high profile medical device incidents
- innovation and governance in the medical devices sector
- future challenges for the regulation and governance of medical devices.