Council Informs Education and Catering Services About E.coli O157
The Highland Council is writing to all pre-school, early years and
nursery groups in Highland to remind managers and proprietors of their
responsibilities regarding infection control and food hygiene and E.coli
A similar letter is also being sent to all
Education, Culture and Sport Service catering establishments which
includes school canteens, leisure centres, swimming pools, museums and
visitor centre cafes.
Bruce Robertson, The Highland Council's Director of
Education, Culture and Sport said: "Clearly we are taking the recent
events in Fife and Aberdeenshire very seriously and we have been in
discussion with our Environmental Health Officers, with colleagues in NHS
Highland and with the Director of Public Health who have provided guidance
that we are issuing on E.coli O157."
In the letter, Alan Yates, Highland Council's Principal
Food Safety Officer reminds managers of their responsibilities regarding
infection control and food hygiene and provides basic advice on E.coli
O157. He also reminds them of the National Care Standards and general
Health and Safety law which place clear responsibilities on them to
protect the health of children in their care.
He said: "This includes taking measures to
control the spread of infection. NHS Highland produces a guidance booklet
"Infection Control Guidance for the Pre-school setting", which provides
all the key information on prevention and control of infection in early
years establishments. Copies are available free by calling the NHS
Highland Health Protection team on 01463 704886 or the document can be
downloaded from the NHS Highland website at:
Regarding food hygiene, Mr Yates reminds
managers of the Food Safety legislation that places responsibilities on
managers and proprietors to ensure all food prepared in premises is safe
to eat. Detailed advice is available from local environmental health
offices and from the website
Shedding Light On Ecoli157
What is E.coli O157?
E.coli are a type of bacteria found in the human intestine, most of
which are quite harmless. However, E.coli O157 produces toxins that can
cause severe disease in man.
Where does E.coli O157 come from?
E. coli O157 can be found in animals and can contaminate water
supplies and certain types of food. Contact with faeces of an infected
person can cause person to person spread. Billions of bacteria can be shed
by an infected child during bouts of diarrhoea.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of E.coli O157 infection include bloody diarrhoea and severe
stomach cramps. In its mildest form, the symptoms often clear up within
about eight days. Unfortunately, a low number of cases develop kidney
disease or failure (Haemolytic Uraemia Syndrome ~ HUS). Children under 10
are most susceptible to HUS.
There are four crucial areas to prevent
the spread of E. coli O157 infection in your childcare facility:
1. Toilet and Hygiene Practices
Always wash your hands in warm soapy
Before and after preparing food
After changing nappies
After going to the toilet.
Children should be taught to wash their
hands after using the toilet, before eating and after direct contact
with animals. This should be supervised.
Soiled nappies and used wipes should be
disposed of hygienically.
2. Avoid the Spread of Infection between
Children and staff who are suffering from
sickness and/or diarrhoea should be kept away from the childcare
facility until at least 48 hours after their symptoms cease.
If a child has vomited or has suffered a
bout of diarrhoea in the childcare facility, the affected area should be
cleaned and disinfected at once. The child's parents should be contacted
to collect the child immediately. All children should be kept out of
this area until it has been cleaned and disinfected. Those cleaning the
area should wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.
3. Food Preparation and Storage
Wash your hands regularly
Keep the storage and preparation of raw
and cooked food strictly separate.
Avoid unnecessary handling of food ~ use
spoons or tongs wherever possible.
Keep perishable food refrigerated.
Do not prepare food too far in advance.
When cooking or reheating food ensure it
gets piping hot. Care must be taken to ensure foods cool down to be safe
eating temperature before serving.
Clean as you go. Keep all equipment and
Keep yourself clean and wear clean
When cooking burgers or minced
meat, make sure you cook thoroughly so that the juices run clear.
Pay particular attention to preventing
cross contamination of ready-to-eat foods with bacteria on raw meat.
Store these foods separately and use separate utensils. Clean equipment
and surfaces thoroughly and immediately after preparing raw meat.
4. Safe Water Supply
If your childcare facility is served by a private drinking water
supply you should ensure that the water is safe and that it complies with
legal drinking water standards. Please contact your local environmental
health office for further information.