Scottish Government confirms Disposable Vape Ban details

THE Scottish Government has published a further their responses to the consultation on ‘Implementing the prohibition of the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland: your views’ and the draft Environmental Protection (Single-use Vapes) (Scotland) Regulations 2024.

Providing an extra degree of clarity on the ban, the Scottish Government has set out its definition of a disposable vape as well as more information regarding how the rules will be enforced.

The Scottish Government acknowledged that enforcement was the biggest concern raised by those who submitted response and state that they continue to collaborate closely with Trading Standards and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to understand the regulatory burdens associated with enforcement and any associated funding, as well as assessing the potential savings and benefits.

The response sets out additional powers to allow Trading Standards to identify sellers, enter premises and seize illegitimate products.

The response has defined the vaping products set to be banned as:
• Not refillable by an individual user in the normal course of their use.
• Not rechargeable
• Not refillable and not rechargeable
• Not able to be fitted with a replacement heating coil which is separately available and replaceable by an individual user in the normal course of their use.

Further to this, those found guilty of committing the offence could be subject to a level five fine – the equivalent to an amount of money between £5,000 and £10,000.

This is in contrast to that in England where a range of notices will be made to the businesses and an initial £200 fine, which could be reduced to £100 if paid within 28 days.

E.Coli O157 Outbreak in UK

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is working with NHS Boards in Scotland, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and other public health agencies across the UK to investigate an increase in the number of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) cases across the UK in recent weeks.

There have been 113 confirmed cases in the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O145 outbreak since May 25. Whole genome sequencing of samples in the current investigation indicates that most cases are part of a single outbreak.

Based on the wide geographic spread of cases, it is most likely that this outbreak is linked to a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items. The public health agencies are working with the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland to investigate further.

As of 4 June, there have been 113 confirmed cases associated with this outbreak of STEC O145 in the UK, all reported since 25 May 2024:

  • 81 in England
  • 18 in Wales
  • 13 in Scotland
  • 1 in Northern Ireland (for this case, evidence suggests that they acquired their infection while visiting England)

Typically, the UK sees around 1,500 cases of STEC over a full year. Numbers of confirmed cases associated with this outbreak are expected to rise as further samples undergo whole genome sequencing.

Cases range in age from 2 to 79 years old, with the majority being young adults. Of the 81 cases in England, 61 have provided information to UKHSA on food, travel, and potential exposures, and 37 people have been hospitalised.

While the source of this outbreak is currently unknown, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of gastrointestinal infections, as well as limiting the spread to others:

  • regularly wash your hands with warm water and soap — alcohol gels do not kill all bugs that cause diarrhoeal illness
  • follow food hygiene measures such as washing fruit and vegetables and cooking food properly
  • if you have diarrhoea and vomiting, you should not prepare food for others and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes to avoid passing on the infection
  • you should not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped

Jim McMenamin, Head of Health Protection (infection Services), Public Health Scotland, said:

To help stop infections like E. coli from spreading, we advise regular hand washing using soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. People should also use disinfectants to clean surfaces that may be contaminated. Anyone experiencing severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever should call their GP or 111 to seek advice. Anyone with diarrhoea or vomiting should avoid attending places such as schools, workplaces or social gatherings until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have ceased.

Education (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government has published the Education (Scotland) Bill.  This can be found at https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/bills/education-scotland-bill/introduced along with some explanatory notes. 

REHIS News – May 2024

We were delighted to see so many REHIS Diploma in Environmental Health and Higher Certificate recipients together with community training Highfield award winners being recognised at the Institute’s Awards Ceremony on 10 May.  Congratulations to all the achievers and winners.  Our thanks also go to Highfield for their generous sponsorship and to Dan McDade, of Highfield, for making the journey north to present the awards.  A full report will be featured in the summer edition of the Journal.

Professional Update Courses

The popular Pollution Update course was held on 22 May, our thanks go to the speakers and delegates whose positive engagement made this event a success.  Our next professional update course is the Food Update which is being held on the morning of 5 June to which all Members and Community Training Presenters are welcome to book to attend.  Details of the programme and a link to the booking form can be found here Food Update – REHIS

Centre Events

The Northern and Southern Centres are actively working on their programme of events for the year, but they are looking for some suggestions of topics.  Please can you contact the Institute if you have any suggestions contact@rehis.com

The next centre event planned is on 12 June when the Northern Centre is holding an online lunchtime presentation on counterfeit alcohol.  To book a place https://rehis.com/events/northern-centre-event/

Environmental Health Scotland-The Journal of the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland – Spring 2024

The Spring edition of Environmental Health Scotland is now available in the members section of the website. 

Salmonella outbreak linked to melon

Researchers have revealed that almost 100 people fell sick in a Salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe melon toward the end of 2023.

In September 2023, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) identified cases of Salmonella Saintpaul in England, Scotland, and Wales. Other ill people were noted in Portugal following an alert by the United Kingdom.

Overall, 98 cases were identified, 93 in the UK and five in Portugal, and almost half were under the age of 10, according to the Epidemiology and Infection journal study.

Information on the UK incident was shared via the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) EpiPulse system in late October 2023. This revealed cases in other countries.

Most patients lived in England, but Scotland had ten and Wales five, with sample receipt dates from Sept. 28 to Nov. 30, 2023.

Cases had a median age of 20, ranging from 10 months to 89 years old; 28 percent were under 5, and 43 percent were under 10. Almost two-thirds were female. Five sick people were identified in Portugal, with sample dates from Oct. 4 to 24, 2023. Patients ranged in age from 2 to 8 years old, and 80 percent were female. 

It was not possible to obtain samples of cantaloupe for microbiological testing. Due to factors including the rapid end of the outbreak and the short shelf life of melons, public health control measures such as product recalls were not taken. Food traceback investigations on the source of the produce are ongoing.

In the UK, supply chains for fresh fruit show seasonal variation, which may account for the sharp rise and tail of the outbreak, said scientists.

Broader epidemiological investigations provided additional evidence for a link to cantaloupe. All five cases confirmed melon consumption in initial hypothesis-generating interviews, and three reported having cantaloupe.

Of the three educational settings attended by some sick people, they all served melon in the week preceding symptom onset. Two confirmed they had served cantaloupe.

Ten cases also provided details from a supermarket’s loyalty card for the same retailer. Three reported cantaloupe consumption in targeted questionnaires. Purchasing information for seven cases revealed they had purchased cantaloupe before symptom onset.

“Epidemiological analysis provides evidence for a link with cantaloupe. In light of this and other recent large outbreaks of Salmonella linked to melon consumption, cantaloupe, and other melon varieties should be considered as potential sources of infection during future Salmonella outbreaks,” said researchers.

Cryptosporidium outbreak in Devon water supplies

Torbay Council, South West Water, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), NHS Devon and the Environment Agency are investigating the outbreak of Cryptosporidium linked to contaminated water.

Addressing the House of Commons on 20 May, Secretary of State for the Environment, Steve Barclay confirmed there are currently 46 cases of waterborne illness Cryptosporidium, with this number expected to grow and two people have been hospitalised.

South West Water initially said that water quality data at the treatment works indicated there were no issues with treated water. However, traces of cryptosporidium were later found in the Hillhead section of their network. A damaged valve on private land in the Hillhead supply area has been identified as the possible cause of contamination, which has since been repaired. 

South West Water has said a damaged valve on its network was the most probable cause of the contamination.

Some 16,000 properties were originally told to boil their water before drinking last week, after dozens of reports of people becoming ill. The majority of households have now had their boil notice lifted.

Updating short-term lets licensing

Regulations have been laid in Parliament that provide technical updates to the short-term let licensing scheme. 

Licensing was introduced in 2022 to provide assurance to guests on safety and quality, such as gas and electrical safety compliance and the suitability of hosts.

If approved, the new regulations would enable:

  • Licences to be transferred to a new host, such as when accommodation is sold
  • Prospective hosts building a new short-term let to apply for a provisional licence before construction is complete
  • Hosts to apply for a maximum of three licence exemptions totalling six weeks in a calendar year

The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) (Amendment) Order 2024 will incorporate a range of updates to the short-term lets licensing scheme.

The proposed changes result from planned monitoring of the implementation of short-term let licensing in Scotland, which was announced in 2023.

If passed by the Scottish Parliament, hosts will be apply to apply for a maximum of three temporary exemptions to the licensing scheme in a calendar year (with a combined total of no more than six weeks). There are also technical clarifications to exclude foster care and guest rooms in certain residential accommodation from licensing requirements.

Minister for Housing Paul McLennan said:

“Short-term let accommodation offers safe and high-quality places to stay throughout Scotland and plays an important role in supporting our tourism sector.

“Since we introduced the licensing scheme I have continually engaged with operators and the wider tourism industry to understand how it is working. These regulations are in response to, and have been refined through, that engagement.

“If passed by the Scottish Parliament, the regulations will support new businesses through the timely transfer of licences between operators and the consideration of new short-term lets at an earlier stage of their development.

“This will ensure that the licensing scheme continues to deliver quality and safety assurance for guests, whilst protecting the needs of local communities.”

Peterhead bakery creates new ‘healthier’ buttery

A bakery in Peterhead has reinvented a much-loved North East delicacy, the buttery, enabled by funding from the Healthier Bakery Fund, an initiative from Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to help Scottish bakery businesses make their products healthier.

The family-owned business, Hame Bakery has reformulated their original buttery recipe to create a new product which has 73% less saturated fat and 91% less salt than the original, making a huge difference to the product’s nutritional content.

Butteries are traditionally made with flour, yeast, salt, and a large amount of lard/fat. But, as time moves on, this beloved bake has fallen out of favour with young people.

“There’s no question that butteries are very high in fat and salt and we’ve found young people are more focused on their health,” explains Patrick Jackson, owner and baker at Hame Bakery.

“We used to make 50 tins of 12 dozen butteries just for our Saturday trade, but it has now fallen to about 20 tins, so we’ve seen a real shift which we’ve put down to an increased focus on health.”

Patrick says that Hame Bakery isn’t afraid to try new things to meet consumer aspirations, which helped inspire their Healthier Bakery Fund project.

“Our multi-seed bread is extremely popular and it has no added salt or sugar. So, we thought, why not create a buttery like this?”

The funding supported Patrick with the time and space to focus on recipe development – all of which has been done in-house.

“The main aim was to make a healthier buttery by incorporating wholegrain flour and more seeds, but we made real progress in reducing the fat.

“It was a lot of trial and error. I made multiple samples by simply going into major retailers and picking up different products and trialling the lighter fat alternatives.”

After finding a suitable substitute, Patrick has been able to produce some incredible results in the nutritional value of his healthier buttery. In addition to the reduction of salt and fat, dietary fibre has increased by 121%, and calories have been reduced by 24%.

“We’ve been selling our healthier butteries now since January and we make about 10 dozen each week. It’s not the same taste, but we have a lot of repeat customers and if it is helping with people’s diet, then that is great.”

Food Standards Scotland’s Head of Public Health Nutrition, Laura Wilson, says:

“It’s important to enable businesses, like Hame Bakery, to have the time and space to try new things with an aim to improve the nutritional content of their products and, ultimately, the health of their customers.

“Evidence shows that reformulation, for example by reducing portion size, calories, or improving nutritional content by increasing fibre, is one of the most effective ways industry can help improve dietary health in Scotland.”

Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health Manager, FDF Scotland, said:

“The fantastic work by Patrick and his team at Hame bakery in developing their better buttery highlights the amazing potential that the bakery industry has to make traditional recipes healthier. Many of Scotland’s favourite foods are produced by our high street bakers from butteries and scotch pies to empire biscuits and yum yums. 

“The bakery industry has always been positive and proactive in meeting industry and health trends. FDF Scotland’s Reformulation for Health team is on hand to offer free guidance and support to help get more healthy, traditional Scottish bakery products on shelves in communities across Scotland.”

Motherwell primary school’s clean air campaign

A clear air campaign by pupils at St Brendan’s and Muirhouse primary schools is targeting drivers to help cut pollution in the area.

Earlier this month the two schools joined forces and took part in a morning protest to highlight the issue and now pupils at both schools are designing posters to highlight the issue.

The schools have held joint assemblies on this subject and have been working with SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) who will install clean air monitors outside the schools to assess air quality in the area.

Muirhouse Primary principal teacher Leanne Smith said: “Children have been putting their artistic talents to good use by designing some eye-catching posters and banners to remind parents and carers that they really shouldn’t be parking close to the school or sitting with their engines idling.

“The standard of the entries was really high and the pupils showed great enthusiasm for this campaign.”

Adam Amiri from P5 at St Brendan’s said, “I felt nervous before the protest but during the protest, I felt like the war had stopped because people were listening to our words and we had made a huge change.”

“The protest made me feel like I had the right to be heard and protest and stand up for what I believe in. I am happy that our voices have been heard and can make a difference,” said Rose Summers P7 at Muirhouse Primary.

“It has been wonderful to have both schools working together on this important issue. The power of Pupil Voice is a real focus for both schools working towards their Gold Rights Respecting Schools Award this year.

“Our pupils are so environmentally aware and their dedication to improving our local community is inspiring to see,” added Katie Jamieson, Head Teacher of Muirhouse Primary School.

Provost of North Lanarkshire Kenneth Duffy congratulated everyone at both schools on their achievements for what he described as an excellent campaign.

“We want to make sure North Lanarkshire is a clean and safe place to live and learn and this campaign, which is making such a difference, is a wonderful example of collaboration in action,” he said.

“The winning posters are superb and I’m sure they will drive home the message that keeping your engine on outside the school gates and parking where you shouldn’t be is completely unacceptable,” he added.

Maura Oates, Head Teacher of St Brendan’s Primary said: “The pupils have embraced this project and it’s been wonderful to see how engaged they are. We’ve worked so well on this issue, which matters so much to everyone who lives and works here.

“The Rights Respecting Schools joint venture between St Brendan’s and Muirhouse Primary schools saw pupils highlight community safety at a school assembly.

“And both schools participated in a joint assembly/coffee morning as part of the ‘We Are Muirhouse’ project, before the Easter break.”

Dr Colin Gillespie, Unit Manager for Environmental Quality at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said: “As Scotland’s environment agency, we’re delighted to work with North Lanarkshire and support these trailblazing schools that have voluntarily come together to actively protest about the local air quality on their routes to school.

“It is encouraging to see young children keen to see the data produced from the air pollution monitors outside their schools and proactively lead change in their local communities.

“With a long history of supporting air quality around schools in Scotland, we recognise the importance of clean air, especially on young lungs and that we’ve all got a part to play in protecting and inspiring the next generation of citizen scientists.”

Community Food Regional Events

Community Food Regional Groups are organising regional events as a way to connect and collaborate with regional community food partners, support local networking, share views and local developments and explore partnership working.

Glasgow Community Food Network is on the 21 June at Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow – details can be found here. Edinburgh Community Food is on 30 May at Central Hall, Edinurgh – details can be found here.

Lanarkshire Community Food and Health Partnership and Community Food Initiatives North East in Aberdeen as currently planning theirs.

Businesses banned from carrying out Brazilian butt lifts in Glasgow

A company which carried out a Brazilian Butt Lift in a hotel function room which left a woman in hospital has been banned from carrying out further BBLs anywhere in Glasgow.

A company which carried out a Brazilian Butt Lift in a hotel function room which left a woman in hospital has been banned from carrying out further BBLs anywhere in Glasgow.

Glasgow City Council’s Environmental Health Officers have served Prohibition Notices on two companies and an associated individual practitioner preventing them from carrying out high risk Brazilian Butt Lift and Breast Augmentation procedures anywhere within the city’s boundaries.

Enforcement action was taken after a woman required emergency hospital treatment following a BBL procedure in a hotel function room in March this year.

The Health and Safety Prohibition Notices prohibit those involved from undertaking any BBL or breast augmentation procedures within any premises or locations within the Glasgow City Council local authority area, until evidence can be provided that these procedures will be carried out safely.

If those involved fail to comply with these notices, a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of a Prosecution, where the offender could face imprisonment, a significant fine, or both.

In a separate incident, coxes of dermal fillers, needles and vials of Botulinum toxin, worth thousands of pounds, were seized by officers from the Criminal Enforcement Unit (CEU) of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Glasgow City Council’s Environmental Health Officers and officers from the MHRA inspected the premises at an industrial estate in the north of the city after receiving complaints from the public and concerns raised by Police Scotland about the type of products being stored, distributed and sold from the premises.

During the inspection, enforcement officers from the MHRA seized a number of unauthorised aesthetic products including almost 400 non-compliant dermal fillers and 320 non-compliant needles/cannulas. More than 180 vials of unlicensed and suspected illegally traded botulinum toxin were also seized.

Councillor Ruairi Kelly, Glasgow’s Convener for Neighbourhood Services, said: “Action has been taken by the council’s Environmental Health team in a bid to prevent procedures being carried out in unsuitable and non-sterile locations. Three prohibition notices have been served on two companies and an associated individual practitioner.

“People need to be extremely careful when considering undergoing cosmetic procedures. If they go wrong – the consequences can be painful, disfiguring and require emergency medical treatment.

“Our Environmental Health officers are also carrying out inspections of aesthetic clinics in the city to help safeguard the public and will continue to take enforcement action when required.”

The Prohibition Notices were issued on May 9th and the companies and individuals concerned have a 21 day period within which they could appeal.

What is a Brazilian butt lift?

Brazilian butt lifts or BBLs are used to make buttocks bigger, more rounded or lifted. Those carrying out the procedure insert silicone-filled implants and/or inject fat transferred from other parts of the body.

The surgery, as with many cosmetic procedures, can be expensive, but liquid or non-surgical BBLs are a cheaper option. In that version, hyaluronic acid, which is used in dermal fillers, is injected to manipulate the size and/or shape of the area.

However, if not performed in a proper way, it can lead to serious health complications.

IFEH publication – ‘Environment and Health International’

The IFEH Magazine Environment & Health International Volume 24 May 2024 Edition is now available here.