CONCERNS OVER FOOD CROSS CONTAMINATION IN ABERDEEN HOSPITAL

Inspections carried out by Environmental Health Officers from Aberdeen City Council found several instances of potential cross contamination at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in their main production kitchen.

Initial inspections and revisits of the hospital kitchen were carried out in September last year and revealed several cross contamination issues during cold food preparation. Consequently several items of prepared ready-to-eat foods were voluntary disposed of at the time. Remedial Action Notices were also served for prohibiting the production of cold open ready-to-eat foods and also the use of the ready-to-eat meat slicer.

The cross contamination issues encountered were; storage of raw and ready to eat foods with raw sausages stored beside cooked chicken; lack of procedures for preparing ready to eat vegetables; lack of separate, designated and readily identifiable equipment for raw and ready to eat food; deficiencies in cleaning procedures and inadequate training of staff.

A revisit was made in January by Environmental Health Officers and took 21 swabs which all passed microbiological examination. However, a follow up inspection in February noted issues with cross contamination, stock control, cleanliness and no hot or cold water in a wash-hand basin. A further revisit was made in April to assess compliance with the enforcement notices and as the catering team had spent significant time and effort improving the Food Safety Management System and associated procedures both notices were withdrawn.

NHS Grampian said there was no evidence the health of any patients suffered but it has improved equipment and training. They also stated that significant investment has been made in new equipment and staff training.

A spokeswoman said: "We take the safe and hygienic preparation of food for our patients very seriously.

"It must be remembered that at no time was the kitchen at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary closed, nor was this ever suggested.

"There is absolutely no evidence that the health of any patient and/or staff members was affected, in fact swabs were taken on two occasions and submitted for microbiological examination and all swabs came back clear.

"That being said, we clearly fell below statutory standards - and our own standards - during these inspections which is very disappointing.

"Patients, relatives, staff and any other visitors to our sites should continue to have full confidence in the quality and standard of the food we produce."

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