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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 04:58 GMT 05:58 UK
Shops 'flout' food hygiene laws
butcher's
A food handler coughed into her hands before serving
Many shops are flouting food hygiene laws, according to the Consumers' Association.

Undercover environmental health officers sent to four butchers, five delicatessens, nine supermarkets, and one market stall found all were breaking basic food hygiene rules.

One food handler wiped his forehead with plastic film that was then used to package ham from a meat slicer.

Another coughed into her hands before serving.

Food Safety advice
Keep hands clean
Avoid cross-contaminating foods
Chill food properly
Cook food properly

An officer noticed a worker at Dewhurst Butchers in Stratford, east London, wearing nail varnish and a jewelled ring - both of which can be health hazards.

The employee failed to wash her hands after touching raw minced beef and claimed cooked ham had a shelf life of up to six days.

There has since been a full review of procedures at the branch, according to managing director Roger Reeson.

"There is no question these findings concern us because this is not our standard by any stretch of the imagination," he said.

Emma Copeland, principle researcher for Consumers' Association magazine Health Which?, said: "We want to see licensing for all food premises introduced, which should include mandatory training in food hygiene, and inspection of all food premises before they open for business."

A Food Standards Agency spokeswoman said it would "look again at the issue of licensing and what is the best way of protecting the public".

Butchers working in shops selling raw and ready-to-eat foods are the only businesses currently required to be licenced.

The FSA has pledged to reduce the estimated 4.5 million annual cases of UK food poisoning by 20% by 2006.

See also:

06 Feb 02 | Health
Tainted food clampdown call
04 Feb 01 | Health
Fears over food poisoning
11 Jun 01 | Health
Dirty hands 'poison thousands'
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