Food Law News - UK - 2009

FSA News Item, 19 March 2009

HYGIENE - Report published following inquiry into 2005 outbreak of E.coli in Wales (FSA Statement)

The report of the E.coli Public Inquiry, established to investigate the outbreak of E.coli O157 in Wales in 2005, has been published today.

The outbreak – the largest ever incidence of E. coli O157 in Wales and the second largest in the UK – affected more than 150 people, most of whom were children in 44 schools across four local authority areas. Thirty-one people were admitted to hospital and a five-year-old boy died.

In a statement issued today, The Food Standards Agency said: 'The report of the Public Inquiry is a comprehensive document and the Agency will review it in detail. This issue will be discussed further at the Agency's open Board meeting in April.'

The National Assembly for Wales set up the inquiry to investigate the causes of the outbreak. Its terms of reference were: ‘To inquire into the circumstances that led to the outbreak of E.coli O157 infection in South Wales in September 2005, and into the handling of the outbreak; and to consider the implications for the future and make recommendations accordingly.'

In its statement, the Agency added: 'Public health is the number one priority of the Food Standards Agency and the Meat Hygiene Service. The Agency was established in 2000 to protect consumers and we welcome any steps taken to support us in this aim. Since 2000, cases of foodborne illness have dropped by almost 20%. The Agency remains committed to continuing this work.

'The outbreak of E.coli in Wales in 2005 was a grave, but unusual, event and the report of the independent Public Inquiry is valuable in understanding the chain of events that led to the outbreak.

'Everyone involved in the production and distribution of food has a role to play in ensuring food safety – from food producers to people in their homes. When rare outbreaks such as this occur we must learn from them and further strengthen our systems.'

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