REHIS News – January 2023

Message from REHIS President Evonne Bauer

Dear REHIS Members,

Thank you all for welcoming me as your President for the 2023 term and year ahead. It’s a delight and great honour and I am truly grateful, and will work hard to benefit the Institute and all members.

I do hope this year is a positive one as I acknowledge that recent years have been difficult for us all. New challenges lie ahead and we best equip ourselves to deal with them.

I strongly believe that professionally environmental health has a key contribution to play in many aspects of covid recovery, in the cost of living crisis, across sustainability and climate change, in directing local economy and business, and in supporting people and communities. We are very well placed and key to respond with our core skills and public health knowledge together with an enthusiastic approach.

REHIS has many events and training opportunities in the planning, and I hope that you are able to take advantage of these in person or hybrid.  Any ideas or comments I would be delighted to hear.

I look forward to a great year ahead as President and hope that I can meet up with many of you.

Sending best wishes to all members for 2023.

REHIS Annual Environmental Health Forum
 
The Institute is delighted to advise that this year’s Annual Environmental Health Forum will be held as a Hybrid event from Kilmardinny House, East Dunbartonshire on Tuesday 25 April 2023.  Further details will be featured on our website very soon.
 
CPD Submissions
 
It is CPD submission time again!
 
CPD submissions for calendar year 2022 require to be with the Institute by 31 January 2023.
 
The Institute’s Scheme of CPD provides a way for Members of the Institute to evidence their ongoing professional development in an independently assessed way. For EHOs this also offers a means to achieve Chartered EHO status.
 
The new website provides a more efficient way to record and submit CPD and can be found by logging into the members only section of the website.  Individual entries can be made at any time through the year, then at the end of the year, when ready to submit this is completed by selecting the relevant entries, the relevant year and hitting ‘submit’. This moves your submission to the bottom of the page and should show CPD as ‘submitted’.
 
Once it has been reviewed, an e mail notification is sent that something has changed and the e mail will ask the submitter to log in to view the change. The status should have changed to either ‘approved’ or ‘more information required’ and, if the latter, will show details of what is required. The submitter can then add anything required and ‘submit’ again, and the process will be repeated. If all is found to meet the Scheme requirements and it says ‘approved’, a certificate of compliance will be sent out in due course. For Chartered EHOs a copy of the updated e mail signature logo will also be sent.
 
If you have any queries regarding CPD submissions please e mail contact@rehis.com
 
REHIS Presenter’s Update Seminar for Food and Health and associated Food and Health Courses
 
Wednesday 22 March 2023 (please note change of date)
 
This will be a half day event, 9.15am until 1.15pm and delivered remotely through MS Teams.

The programme will be finalised in the next few weeks, but we are pleased to confirm there will be sessions launching the new REHIS Elementary Nutrition course and Elementary Food and Health course by e-learning.

Booking form and programme will be sent out to all centres in the next few weeks.  We ask that this is passed onto all Food and Health Presenters.
 
Dog Control Training
 
The final session of the popular Dog Control training is to be delivered on Tuesday 7 February. There are still some places available and remember, if you work for a local authority attendance is funded.  Book a space here

Horse meat scandal – a decade on

Most people will remember the horsemeat scandal as one of the biggest food fraud cases of recent years. The scandal broke in January 2013 and threw the vulnerability of supply in the food industry into the headlines.

A decade on BBC World Service presenter Ben Henderson speaks to Alan Reilly, former CEO of the Irish Food Safety Authority, who uncovered the scandal. You can hear this here

In December 2012, the Food Standards Agency Ireland (FSAI) tested a range of frozen foods as part of their normal proactive monitoring activities. These tests showed unknown DNA to be present in the samples. They tested the samples again for bovine (cow), porcine (pig) and equine (horse) DNA. The results came back showing that over a third of the products contained equine DNA and 85% of the total products contained pig. One sample from Tesco turned out to be 29 per cent horse instead of beef. 

Until then supermarkets and enforcement bodies had not tested for horse in beef products, because no one expected it to be there.

Because the findings were so serious and likely to do huge damage to commercial interests, the FSAI spent two months retesting before announcing its findings on January 15 2013, after a Cabinet meeting reviewed what was found. No one knew how long the adulteration had gone on.

Following these findings, the European Commission launched an EU wide 3-month random sampling DNA testing programme for processed meats. These tests revealed that “beef” in frozen lasagne and spaghetti bolognese made by French manufacturer Comigel was up to 100% horse. It was clear the crisis was not confined to the UK and Ireland, but was an issue across the EU.

Despite a lengthy investigation by the Department of Agriculture, which found fault with several Irish companies, none were prosecuted as no food company in Ireland was intentionally adding horsemeat to products. However, some companies, were buying the cheapest possible meat for burgers and mislabelling products without certification or authenticity testing/

Custodial sentences were handed down to senior staff in FlexiFoods and Dino & Sons in the UK in 2017, and in the French meat processing company Spanghero in 2019. Dutch trader Johannes Fasen was also given a two-year sentence for mislabelling 500 tonnes of meat sold to the French company Comigel. He was named as the key figure in the illegal meat shipping network.

An investigation by Spanish authorities showed the organisation laundered money and faked animal identity documents to make profitable gains estimated at around €20 million per year by selling chopped-up horsemeat from dead or sick animals as beef.

A Dutch court in 2015 found two meat wholesalers owned by Willy Selten had bought and processed over 330 tonnes of horsemeat in 2011 and 2012, selling it on to customers, including some in Ireland, who believed they were buying pure beef. He was sentenced to 2½ years in prison.

In a bid to restore consumer faith, the Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned a report into the horsemeat scandal to establish how it happened and what steps should be taken to prevent it from happening again. The report, titled the Elliott Review, was published in 2013.

The horsemeat scandal taught us how susceptible to fraud and crime the food industry can be. The Elliott Review made it clear how the extent of food fraud and food crime has previously been unrecordable.

Now in Scotland, there is the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) which is the investigations and intelligence gathering arms of Food Standards Scotland (FSS) who focus on tackling food crime and maintaining consumer protection.

There is also the annual coordination of Interpol and Europol and their food fraud investigations under the operation title Opson. Every year Opson works with numerous countries and reports its findings in food fraud.

Hepatitis A outbreak study reveals food borne transmission likely

An outbreak of Hepatitis A (HAV) with 33 confirmed cases included household and food borne transmission according to the study published in Epidemiology and Infection.  

In June 2019, Public Health England (now the United Kingdom Health Security Agency) Yorkshire and Humber Health Protection Teamwere contacted by Outwood Academy, a secondary school, with concerns over the illness of three members of staff. 

Prior to the illness of staff, a member of the catering team at the school had been sick for three weeks and reported abnormal liver function tests. Investigations revealed that two ill staff members were positive for immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies to HAV (anti-HAV IgM). One patient worked as a food handler in the school kitchen. Indirect transmission through food from the canteen was considered the most likely route. The following day there were eight positive cases linked to the school. Following this, an outbreak control team (OCT) was convened.

A joint site visit to the school was made by Community Infection Control, Environmental Health and Public Health England to review general hygiene and infection control and any issues arising from management in the canteen and kitchen areas.

Thirty-three confirmed patients were part of the outbreak. Of those tested, 31 had the same sequence with an HAV IB genotype. The first three cases were part of the same household: the two earliest ones were household contacts of the food handler who was the first case associated with the school. A further 19 patients, including 16 students and three staff, were linked to the school and indirect exposure to the food handler. One late-onset case resulted in vaccinations at the school.

Five patients were linked to the So! Bar and Eats bakery in Ripon where a case from the household cluster worked part-time as a food server.

There were four cases with no indicated source. One of these was a food handler at a local restaurant and was reported to have been ill at work on the same day as the onset of jaundice. Two other patients were younger siblings of cases who went to Outwood Academy and attended separate primary schools.

The case that worked in the school canteen prepared cold and ready-to-eat food items for six days during the likely infectious period. All 19 patients regularly had food from this canteen.

During an environmental health visit, several areas for improvement in the use of appropriate cleaning products and their management were noted, but no major issues were identified.

Five people were infected through indirect contact with the sick bakery worker during one of three infectious-working days. The store reported that the ill person’s duties were to serve food while wearing gloves and using tongs.

The initial household cluster shared an identical sequence with four other cases in England. These patients lived in different regions and were linked to the consumption of dates. The first patient reported eating dates of the same brand as the sick people from other regions.

A food chain investigation of the dates, imported from Iran, revealed that regular testing for HAV was not standard practice. Suppliers in Iran reported that workers’ hands were tested monthly for HAV but with no positive results. Two samples of date fruits from the identified brand were tested under the authority of the Food Standards Agency in the UK and were found to be negative for HAV.

Control measures in the outbreak included prompt identification of cases and vaccination of household contacts; emphasising the need for hand hygiene in the school setting and for cases; exclusion of identified patients from school or work and the production of cold, ready-to-eat foods in the school canteen was temporarily stopped. Almost 75 percent of 677 students and 74 of 132 staff at the school were vaccinated in response to the outbreak.

Transmission that occurred at the secondary school and bakery was probably a result of indirect transmission – direct handling of food (in a school canteen) and serving food (at a bakery). Exposure to HAV at both settings preceded awareness of public health authorities that the index cases worked with food.

Breaches of protocols and lapses in hygiene and safe food practices at both workplaces probably contributed to transmission but a specific food item was not found, said researchers.

Aged meat not riskier than fresh meat 

Aged meat does not pose any additional risks compared to fresh meat if it is aged under controlled conditions, EFSA experts concluded in a scientific opinion.

Meat ageing is a process during which microbes and enzymes act upon the meat to break down the connective tissue, thereby tenderising the meat and giving it a richer flavour. This can be done through two main methods: wet ageing and dry ageing. Wet ageing is used for beef, pork and lamb that is stored and refrigerated in a vacuum package, while dry aged beef is refrigerated without packaging which results in a dry surface that is cut off before preparation.

“Aged meat has risen in popularity in recent years among the food industry and restaurants yet until now there has been a lack of knowledge about its safety. EFSA’s advice contributes to fill that gap and provides a solid scientific basis for food business operators to produce aged meat that is safe,” said the Chair of EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards, Prof Kostas Koutsoumanis.

There are no additional risks involved provided that the specific combination of time and temperature identified in the scientific opinion are observed during the ageing process, said EFSA’s experts. For example, dry aged beef can be considered as safe as fresh beef if ageing is done for up to 35 days at a temperature of 3°C or lower.

EFSA’s experts looked at current practices and identified the relevant pathogens and spoilage bacteria that might develop and survive during the ageing process and that could be harmful for health. These include E. coli (STEC) (especially in beef), Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureusListeria monocytogenes, enterotoxigenic Yersinia spp., Campylobacter spp. and Clostridium spp.

They described the conditions, expressed as combinations of time and temperature of the ageing process, under which the production of dry aged and wet aged meat would result in the same level of safety as fresh meat.

In the case of dry aged meat, our experts also advised that the surface temperature not exceed 3°C during the ageing process. This is because at higher temperatures mould might grow on the surface of dry aged meat and some of these moulds naturally produce mycotoxins – toxic compounds that can have harmful health effects.

Finally, our experts concluded that the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and prerequisite programmes used to ensure the safety of fresh meat are also applicable to aged meat.

Drinks producers urged to register now for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

Drinks producers are being urged not to delay registering for Scotland’s landmark Deposit Return Scheme as the deadline fast approaches. 

The scheme is a first for the UK and puts Scotland on a path to a more circular economy by incentivising the return of bottles and cans and improving the quantity and quality of materials collected. By 2025 it will capture 90% of all drink containers included in the scheme, which is expected to provide 2 billion drink containers a year for recycling. 

HOW IT WILL WORK  

The scheme applies to soft and alcoholic drinks sold in single-use containers between 50ml and 3 litres and made from PET, plastic, glass, aluminium and steel. All producers making or businesses importing these products for sale in Scotland are required to register with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) before 1 March 2023, either directly or via Circularity Scotland. The scheme will then go live on 16 August 2023, when producers will have to charge a 20p deposit on each container they place on the market and arrange for empties to be collected for recycling, meeting collection targets.  

Retailers, wholesalers and hospitality businesses in Scotland must also comply with the Deposit Return Scheme Regulations, though do not have to register with SEPA. Their obligations include only selling drinks from a registered producer and including the 20p deposit on each drink sold. They will also act as a return point, providing information on how customers can bring back their empty containers and receive a refund of the 20p deposit.    

BEHAVIOUR CHANGE  

Vicki White, Head of Materials at SEPA, said: “As Scotland’s environmental regulator, SEPA is firmly focused on helping businesses do the right thing for our planet, take responsibility and become more sustainable. 

“Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme supports a move away from a throwaway culture and gives producers a leading role in that behaviour change as they will be responsible for the environmental impacts of their products throughout their life cycle. This is a significant step towards developing a more circular economy.  

“We are here to help throughout this change and have lots of guidance available on the scheme, information on which drinks are part of it and help with creating operational plans. While we expect most businesses to register via Circularity Scotland, we stand ready to support those who wish to register directly with SEPA.” 

NEXT STEPS  

Registration is open now, with producers able to register via the scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, or directly with SEPA. More information on how businesses can appoint Circularity Scotland to register with SEPA on their behalf can be found on their website.

Drinks producers that don’t sign-up before the 1 March 2023 deadline risk not being able to sell their products in Scotland. Any business concerned about being able to meet the registration deadline, or any other producer obligations, is encouraged to get in touch with SEPA or contact Circularity Scotland for advice and guidance.   

After the registration deadline, SEPA will publish and maintain a list of all producers who are registered to market and sell their drinks in Scotland. Retailers, wholesalers and hospitality businesses will be able to check this to ensure they only sell scheme approved products from registered producers. Once the scheme goes live in August 2023, SEPA will carry out audits, inspections and support producers to achieve compliance.   

More information on Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme and how to register can be found here

Disposable vapes ban to be considered for Scotland

An urgent review of the environmental impacts and management of single-use vapes has been commissioned.

The review, which comes in response to emerging concerns around the negative consequences of the disposable devices, will inform potential policy responses, which could include a ban of the products.

The disposable smoking devices have been linked to issues including litter, plastic waste and fire risk.

Zero Waste Scotland will lead on the review, which will consider international experience and action, including any key developments in the European Union.

Other approaches could include increasing access to responsible disposal options, improved product design or public communications campaigns.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:

“Not only are single-use vapes bad for public health, they are also bad for the environment. From litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities, there are issues which need to be addressed urgently.

“We will consider the evidence and expert advice and come forward with policy options, which could include a potential ban on single-use vapes.

“In the meantime, we would urge everyone who uses these products to make sure they are disposed of properly.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Any form of littering is an unacceptable, anti-social behaviour, that is damaging to the environment and the economy. Single-use items, like disposable vapes, are becoming an all-too-common eyesore in areas where we live, work, and socialise, and can last in our environment for years and years. Tackling our throwaway culture is a priority here at Zero Waste Scotland and we are happy to lead on this important review.”

The Scottish Government is working on a refreshed Tobacco Action Plan, which will be published this Autumn. This will consider a range of interventions with an emphasis on reducing smoking and vaping among children and young people.

Correct disposal of e-cigarettes and vapes:

  • E-cigarettes or vapes should not be thrown away in general waste in order to avoid the risk of fire.
  • E-cigarettes or vapes should be disposed of at small waste electrical and electronic equipment receptacles widely available at household waste recycling centres.
  • If the batteries inside vapes are easily removable, these should be removed and disposed of in battery recycling receptacles.

Boat hire pair fined for failings that led to a man’s death

A 64-year-old-man and a 57-year-old woman have been fined a total of £10,000 for health and safety failings which led to a 23-year-old man’s death by drowning.

Clifford Davies and Janet Lightbown, who are the joint owners of Loch Awe Boats, were each ordered to pay £5,000 after they pled guilty to a health and safety breach at Oban Sheriff Court on 10 January 2023

The court heard that on 29 June 2019, Kyle Cairney, from Prestonpans, made an email enquiry to Loch Awe Boats about a two-day booking in mid-August. On 1 July 2019, a booking was confirmed for three persons in his name for 17 and18 August.

On Friday 16 August 2019, Davies emailed Kyle Cairney to cancel his booking for that weekend, stating that their “hire licence prohibits boat hire in winds in excess of 18 mph and tomorrow is set to be pretty wild”.

A Facebook post from Loch Awe Boats stated:

Once again, we are having to cancel boat hire tomorrow (Saturday 17th) due to the forecast for very high winds on Loch Awe……. The upper wind speed for boat hire to comply with our hire licence is 18 mph. Sorry to disappoint, but safety is our priority.”

Despite these communications, Mr Cairney, his brother Nathan and their friend Kieran Cowan, decided to travel to Ardbrecknish on the morning of Saturday 17 August.

An agreement was reached with both Davies and Lightbown to hire a boat on the condition that they would go directly to their campsite some forty minutes away while conditions remained calm and that they would not go back out on the water until the following morning when the weather was forecast to improve.

The hire was secured despite the communications of the previous day. 

The three men set out from the boatyard and travelled to the island of Inishail where they set up camp. At about 10.30am, all three went out on the loch again, this time to the south of the Black Isles, where they fished for about an hour and a half. At around midday, they returned to their campsite.

Around 1.00pm, the three of them again went out on the boat. Only Nathan Cairney was wearing a life jacket.

They headed to the top end of the loch towards Kilchurn Castle. This would have been relatively sheltered from the winds.

During the journey back from Kilchurn to Inishail, the men had to cross the broadest part of the loch which would expose them to the worst of any weather that they would encounter. As they progressed, the weather continued to worsen, and the water became very choppy.

As they passed Fraoch Eilean which is in the centre of the largest open area of water in the entire loch, both Cairney brothers described waves coming over the bow of the boat and filling it. The water was coming in faster than they could bail it out, and it was gathering at the rear of the boat. The additional weight raising the bow and exposing more of the hull at the forward end to the oncoming waves.

When the engine was cut so they could all bail, the boat turned and was facing towards Fraoch Eilean. Seconds after the engine was cut, the boat capsized.

Nathan Cairney recollects, “It had been sinking before we cut the engine, so it didn’t take much for it to flip. When it’s flipped, I was at the front, Kieran was in the middle and Kyle was at the engine. When it’s flipped, I sort of fell off the boat into the water, I initially went under, but my life jacket has pulled me back up instantly. I saw Kieran and Kyle near to me and the three of us went over to the boat which was upside down. When we all held onto it the boat started to sink. None of us said anything, we all just started swimming to the nearest island, the water was extremely choppy, and it was still dull. As I was swimming towards the island Kieran was on my left-hand side and Kyle was to my right.”

Kyle Cairney described a ten-minute swim to reach land, stating, “I kept going under the water. It was impossible to stay above it, fighting through it.” He describes falling over with exhaustion upon reaching the shore of Fraoch Eilean. Nathan Cairney describes Kieran struggling in the water and trying to reach him.  When Nathan reached the shore, he was distressed, repeatedly stating that Kieran was under the water. Neither brother could see any trace of their friend.

Kyle called the emergency services. This started a major rescue operation, with Police, Fire Service and Coastguard responding. Davies was contacted by HM Coastguard, which had deployed a rescue helicopter to the area. Davies went onto the loch in a fast boat and made for the area of Fraoch Eilean, where he located the Cairney brothers and took them to Innis Chonain where they were taken into the care of the emergency services.

Davies then returned to Fraoch Eilean to search for Keiran Cowan. He later located the upturned Boat which, with the assistance of Fire and Rescue personnel, was righted and towed to Innis Chonain where it was handed over to the police.

On Tuesday 20 August, officers from Police Scotland’s Marine Unit found Kieran’s body approximately 46 metres from the shore of Fraoch Eilean. The cause of death was determined to be ‘immersion in water’.

Kieran was the middle child in a family of three, with an older brother and a younger sister. He lived at home with his parents and was a self-employed joiner/carpenter.

Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said:

“Clifford Davies and Janet Lightbown, in the operation of their business, Loch Awe Boats, fell far short of the requirements of the Hire Boat Code on 17 August 2019. 

“This incident would not have occurred had they not hired out the boat that day, as was their original intention because of the forecast adverse weather. 

“Their decision set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the death of a young man.

“Those who hire boats to the public must be aware of their duties and responsibilities, especially when hiring to persons who may be inexperienced when taking to the water.”

The investigation by Argyll and Bute Council found that Davies and Lightbown had exposed their customers to risk by hiring out a boat which failed to comply with the stability and safety requirements of the Hire Boat Code.

A marine expert found that there were a number of defects with the boat. The stem was significantly damaged with several holes in the stem and the stem foot, where fastenings were missing. Daylight could be seen through one clear hole, which would have been above the waterline in calm conditions. Obsolete fastenings in the stem were loosely fitting and would allow water ingress. Some damage had been repaired with various types of filler, but epoxy resin-based marine filler was not used. Those holes which were above the waterline would have been submerged when the boat was underway in stormy conditions or when the boat was carrying a heavy load.

The expert’s opinion was that in the stormy conditions on 17 August 2019 the holes in the stem and the small freeboard (the distance between the top of the gunwale and the surface of the water) are likely to have allowed more water to be shipped.

The investigation also found that they hired out the boat in weather conditions which went beyond the limitations set out in their own risk assessment as there was a high risk of drowning.

Two outbreaks in the UK linked to imported melons

Two outbreaks in the United Kingdom in 2021, were linked to consumption of imported melon, according to a recently released study published in Journal of Food Protection.

One outbreak was linked to Salmonella Braenderup from Galia Melons and the other linked to Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 from precut watermelon.

E.Coli (STEC) melon outbreak

In July and August 2021, there was an outbreak of 17 cases of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 in the UK. A review of the STEC surveillance questionnaire data, followed by the analysis of responses from a modified hypothesis-generating questionnaire, implicated eating precut watermelon sourced from Europe as the vehicle of infection. 

Nine patients were female and ages ranged from less than 1 to 65. Patients lived across Great Britain, with 10 in England, six in Wales, and one in Scotland. Thirteen people reported bloody diarrhoea and abdominal pain, eight had nausea, five reported vomiting, and three reported fever. Six people were hospitalized but none developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) and no one died.

Of eight patients that reported consumption of precut watermelon, five purchased it from the same retailer. Researchers said modified hypothesis-generating questionnaires should be used early in investigations to capture detailed exposure histories while the patient is still willing to participate, and to reduce recall bias. They also proposed a review of the STEC standard questionnaire, to provide more detail on fresh produce, including the variety, retailer, brand, and product line.

The watermelon distributor said it performed E. coli counts as an indicator of contamination, on one sample per production. No samples had above 100 colony-forming units per gram (cfu/g). Testing for E. coli O157 was only done for samples with more than 100 cfu/g. Two retailers tested 209 and 359 products containing precut watermelon and reported no samples above 100 cfu/g.

Watermelons came from three businesses in Spain. Melon was cut at a manufacturing facility in England and had a shelf life of five to six days. No whole or pre-cut watermelon samples in production in the days prior to symptom onset in cases were available for testing.

Salmonella melon outbreak

Between March and July 2021, there was an outbreak of 113 cases of Salmonella Braenderup in the UK. Analytical epidemiological studies identified Galia melons as the vehicle of infection. Subsequently, the outbreak strain was isolated from two samples of Galia melon imported from Honduras Latin America. 

More than 100 patients lived in England but eight were in Scotland and two each from Wales and Northern Ireland. A total of 70 cases were female and patients ranged from 6 months to 101 years old. Fifteen were hospitalised and three people were already hospital inpatients when symptoms began.

During the outbreak investigation, 200 samples of melon including Galia, cantaloupe, or honeydew varieties from one supplier in Honduras were tested at the UKHSA Food, Water, and Environment (FW&E) laboratories in York, London, and Porton and two Galia melon positive.

Cantaloupe melons were also identified as potential vehicles of infection and could not be ruled out based on the study findings and similar nature of the growing, transport, supply, and distribution patterns. It was possible that similarities in the appearance of Galia and cantaloupe melons led to cases incorrectly identifying which type they consumed.

Authorities in Honduras did an onsite inspection of the growing farm in June 2021. A risk management plan was developed. There had been heavy rain for three days during the harvest. Salmonella Braenderup matching the outbreak strain was found on the surface of a washing tank in one of the Honduran facilities where Galia melons were packed.

“A variety of sources of contamination were possible; the most likely being that unusually high rainfall in Honduras during the harvest period resulted in sewage overflow and run-off contaminated the water used to irrigate the melon crops,” said scientists.

Postharvest contamination from an infected handler or cross-contamination from other products during the transportation process could also have occurred.

“Given the difficulty in removing pathogens from the flesh of ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables, public health interventions should target all steps of the food chain prior to consumption, from cultivation on the farm to processing, packing and distribution,” said researchers.

Brownfield Land Scotland 2023

Come together with the Scottish brownfield community at the 16th annual Brownfield Land Scotland conference, which is returning to The Grosvenor Hotel, Glasgow on 7 February.

Brought to you by Environment Analyst’s Brownfield & Regeneration Network, this CPD-certified conference will provide practical solutions for the improved investigation and development of brownfield and contaminated land in Scotland.

This year’s event provides an invaluable opportunity to come together with your colleagues across Scotland, and join over 100 attendees from regulatory agencies, contaminated land & environmental health officers from local councils, brownfield consultants and contractors and other stakeholders, as we explore solutions to key challenges affecting the investigation and development of brownfield and contaminated land in Scotland.

View the event programme.

Hear a range of industry experts discuss:

  • National Planning Framework 4 – Delivering Change with the Scottish Government
  • Delivering NPF4: The Role of Land with the Scottish Land Commission 
  • Case Study: Working Together to Bring Brownfield Land Back into Use
  • Case Study: Complex Conceptualisation of Creosote – the Curious Case of DNAPL Migration into an Artesian Aquifer with RSK Geosciences
  • Advances in Laboratory Analysis for Different Contaminants to Optimise Risk Assessment
  • Climate Change Considerations for Land Contamination Risk Assessment
  • Panel Discussion: Improving the Quality of Gas Protection Installation & Verification with Butek Landline, Butyl Products Group and Mason Evans Partnership
  • Case Study: Remediation of Former Auldcathie Landfill, Winchburgh with Winchburgh Developments and Sweco
  • Working Towards Circular Economy Practices with Materials on Brownfield Development Projects with Davidson Chalmers Stewart LLP

Plus, our roundtable discussion sessions are returning, giving you the chance to problem-solve in a small, closed group setting, with others who share your concerns.

Book your ticket

Book your ticket here.

There are also a limited number of free event tickets for REHIS members who are from developers, house-builders, and other client organisations. To find out if you are eligible for a free client event ticket please contact emily.ridge@environment-analyst.com.

Season Greetings

On behalf of everyone at REHIS, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to working with you again in 2023.

 Please note that the REHIS Office will be closed from 3pm on Friday 23rd December until Wednesday 4th January 2023.
(There will be a limited service on 28th-30th Dec with some staff working from home on these dates)

CPD Submissions

All professionals are encouraged to participate in a CPD Scheme and the Institute’s Scheme of CPD provides a way for Members of the Institute to evidence their ongoing professional development in an independently assessed way. For EHOs this also offers a means to achieve Chartered EHO status.

The new website provides a more efficient way to record and submit CPD and can be found by logging into the members only section of the website.

  • Individual entries can be made at any time through the year, then at the end of the year, when ready to submit this is completed by selecting the relevant entries, the relevant year and hitting ‘submit’. This moves your submission to the bottom of the page and should show CPD as ‘submitted’.
  • Once it has been reviewed, an e mail notification is sent that something has changed and the e mail will ask the submitter to log in to view the change.
  • The status should have changed to either ‘approved’ or ‘more information required’ and, if the latter, will show details of what is required. The submitter can then add anything required and ‘submit’ again, and the process will be repeated. 
  • If all is found to meet the Scheme requirements and it says ‘approved’, a certificate of compliance will be sent out in due course. For Chartered EHOs a copy of the updated e mail signature logo will also be sent.

If you have any queries regarding CPD submissions please e mail contact@rehis.com

UK Government must take air pollution more seriously, says England’s Chief Medical Officer in annual report

Stronger and concerted action is required across all areas of public policy to reduce air pollution and its impacts, England’s Chief Medical Officer has urged.

In his annual report Chris Whitty said that while outdoor air pollution in England has reduced significantly since the 1980s it still poses significant health threats including increasing heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer, child lung development, and asthma, and kills an estimated 26 000 to 38 000 people a year in England.

The report said that indoor air pollution is becoming an increasing proportion of the overall problem as outdoor air pollution improves, and called for more focus on tackling it.

According to the report people spend around 80% of their time indoors, whether for work, study or leisure. Many indoor spaces are public, and people do not have a choice about spending time in them. Despite this, indoor air pollution has been studied less than outdoors.

The report said: “Solid fuels are by far the most polluting method of domestic heating, and wood burning has increased in popularity over recent years. Reasons for burning wood and other solid fuels vary, and include aesthetic as well as practical, ecological or economic reasons. For air pollution emissions, there is substantial difference between the different open fire and stove designs, the age of the appliance and how well maintained it is, and the moisture content of the wood, for those who want to burn wood. In urban areas, burning wood has the potential to worsen local air quality significantly”

The report makes 15 recommendations across a range of sectors:

Outdoor air pollution

1. Outdoor air pollution is falling and will fall further, provided we continue and accelerate the things we know work. This requires action in many sectors, but the interventions are all realistic. We need to focus on areas where people live, study, work and have leisure.

Indoor air pollution

2. As outdoor air pollution falls, indoor air pollution becomes a greater proportion of the problem. Ventilation and reducing emissions are important. Several interventions are highlighted in the report. However, the path to improvement is not as clear as for outdoors, and further research will be needed.

Specific recommendations

Transport

  1. The electrification of light vehicles and public transport is important for reducing air pollution from vehicle tailpipes – momentum must be maintained, and accelerated wherever possible. Emissions from tyres and road wear will not be improved by electrification, and this is a key research and innovation need.
  2. A greater range of options for reducing air pollution emissions from heavy vehicles is needed. Some specialised vehicles such as refrigerated units need to be addressed, especially in urban areas.
  3. The electrification of railways can significantly reduce air pollution emissions from trains and improve air quality for travellers, staff and those living nearby. Where this is not possible, bi-mode or other low-pollution technologies should be used. Closed spaces are important, for example we should look to end diesel trains being left running in enclosed stations.

Urban planning

6. With national government, local authorities are central in the response to air pollution. Urban planning should support reducing air pollution concentrations locally – such as reducing air pollution near schools and healthcare settings. Shifting to active travel where possible has direct health wins as well as reducing air pollution from vehicles – planning should support this.

Industry

7. The substantial improvements from industrial processes over recent years are impressive. Wherever possible remaining industries that emit pollution should be sited away from densely populated areas. Where they cannot, such as construction, mitigations can significantly reduce the impact and they should be adhered to.

Agriculture

8. Ammonia emissions from agriculture contributes to secondary particulate matter air pollution, which can travel large distances and affect populated areas. Significant reductions in ammonia air pollution could be achieved by precision application of slurry to, or into soil, and covering slurry-stores. There would be capital costs, but these changes could be self-sustaining afterwards.

The NHS

  1. The NHS is committing to halving its contribution to poor air quality within a decade while reducing health inequalities.
  2. The training of healthcare staff should include the health effects of air pollution and how to minimise these, including communication with patients.

Indoor air pollution

  1. People spend large periods of time indoors and many indoor places are public, where individuals have little control over the quality of air they breathe. These two factors should be recognised in the planning and development of public indoor spaces.
  2. Effective ventilation, while minimising energy use and heat loss, is a priority for reducing air pollution, respiratory infections and achieving net zero. This is a major engineering challenge which needs solving.
  3. While there is co-ordination across government, the ownership of indoor air quality policy within government needs to be clarified.

Wood stoves and other solid fuel heating

14. The use of wood stoves is increasing and can impact air quality significantly in urban areas. Air pollution emissions can be reduced, but not fully eliminated, by using modern, less polluting stoves and burning wood that is dry. In smoke control areas, the rules should be adhered to.

Research

15. Research priorities are highlighted in the research section. Indoor air pollution in particular needs greater research interest. Policies should be evaluated once implemented.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said:

“Everyone is affected by air pollution, and it is everyone’s problem.

Air pollution has improved and will continue improving provided we are active in tackling it. We can and should go further – and it is technically possible to do so.”