The Animals in Need annual summer fair is back!
It will be on Sunday 7th September from 12:00 till 4:00
Stalls will include refreshments, craft, games and bric-a-brac.
Entrance is only a pound and it’s happening at their rescue centre in Little Irchester, see you there…
Lovely food and lovely company, this venue has been specially requested due to their vegan menu by Jenny and Les, loveliness awaits……
150-152 Queensway, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK2 2RS
Join our event on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/754798237918389/
Alternatively confirm your attendance by email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07977 322 399
UK food watchdog admits chicken factory breached hygiene laws
Food Standards Agency says it was wrong to clear Scunthorpe plant of any failings, as more workers make dirty poultry claims. The government’s food watchdog has been forced to admit that an initial inquiry which cleared one of the UK’s largest poultry processing plants of hygiene failings was misleading.
Instances of chickens being dropped on the floor then returned to the production line, documented by a Guardian investigation into failings in the poultry industry, constituted a “breach of the legislation”, the Food Standards Agency has now acknowledged.
Following the Guardian revelations at the site in Scunthorpe in July, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asked the FSA to investigate. It rated the factory as good and wrote to the shadow food and farming minister saying there was no evidence of any breaches of food hygiene legislation.
But in an embarrassing climbdown less than a month on, the FSA has written to Labour’s Huw Irranca-Davies admitting it was wrong. It has reviewed the Guardian’s undercover footage showing dirty birds from the floor being thrown back into food production and concluded there has been a serious breach. But it has not issued a penalty, saying the company has assured it the problem has been addressed.
The admission comes as fresh allegations of hygiene failings at the factory emerged, with three former employees making claims about dirty chickens contaminating the production line and attempts to manipulate inspections up to 2012.
Labour said the FSA admission and the new questions over safety raised serious questions about the poultry inspection system in the UK.
The Guardian investigation last month revealed poor practice at the abattoir in Scunthorpe. It is owned by the 2 Sisters group, which supplies, including Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and KFC. Hunt asked the FSA to audit the abattoir in the wake of the revelations.
Despite supermarket audits of this and another site suggesting that improvements were needed, the FSA did not alter its rating of the factory, or issue any penalty, because the company said during the official audit that it had taken action to ensure it did not happen again.
But now three workers who have been in charge of quality control at the factory in recent years have come forward claiming it was “an almost daily occurrence” for birds to fall on the floor and be put back into the food chain instead of being correctly disposed of as waste. The company initially denied any instances of this happening.
The sources also claimed that auditors were often hoodwinked, even when their visits were supposedly unannounced, as managers slowed production lines and cleaned up poor practice when they were present. One described his responsibility for ensuring production managers followed the company’s own rules on food hygiene and safety as “a war of attrition”.
Concerns about hygiene standards in poultry production focus on preventing the spread of the food poisoning bug campylobacter. An estimated 280,000 people in the UK get sick each year because of it, and about 100 die. It is the most common cause of food poisoning, with chicken accounting for the vast majority of infections. The bug is killed by cooking but can spread easily from raw chicken.
The original Guardian investigation was prompted by insiders claiming that one reason campylobacter rates remained high was the gap between the industry’s strict hygiene rules and auditing systems to check on them, and the reality on the factory floor, where managers were under pressure to process large volumes at high speed.
In a letter to Irranca-Davies, the FSA’s chief executive, Catherine Brown, admitted “pretty much all UK chicken production facilities experience unacceptably high levels of contamination with campylobacter“.
The Guardian’s investigation also revealed failings and breakdowns at another 2 Sisters site in Llangefni, Anglesey, and at another large processor. Sources said these occurred at several key points in the chicken production chain which are known to be high risk for the spread of campylobacter. Breakdowns meant that high-risk offal, guts and feathers piled up for hours as production continued. In another incident, scald tanks were not cleaned for days, meaning hundreds of thousands of birds were processed through unchanged dirty water.
The FSA emergency audit of the Llangefni site rated it as “generally satisfactory”. The Guardian understands that it was critical of the company for failing to cancel the day’s slaughter when the scald tank incident occurred. Sources at the site said the tanks went uncleaned for three days; the company and the FSA say it was only two and that tests were conducted for bacteria counts before production was allowed to continue.
It is understood, however, that these tests were only for salmonella, not for campylobacter contamination.
The three new sources were all employed as quality controllers until 2012 at the Scunthorpe site. Roy Stevenson was in charge of a team of quality assurance technicians and worked at the factory for more than a decade until being made redundant at the end of 2012.
“On the day of the audit, all the lines would be slowed to a minimum where it was pristine,” he claimed. “There would be no birds dropping on to the floor, an auditor would walk round and everything would look lovely, unlike any other day.”
Richard Lingard worked at the factory as a quality controller for a few weeks in 2012 before moving on because he said it was impossible to do the job correctly. A third former quality controller with several years’ experience at Scunthorpe in the recent past, who asked for anonymity, described being regularly undermined and bypassed when trying to enforce hygiene rules.
All three claimed birds fell on the floor regularly because the line speeds were too fast for workers to keep up, and they would then be recycled back into the food chain in breach of company policy. They allege that their efforts to stop this happening were undermined by production staff.
Sources say the atmosphere at the Llangefni plant since the Guardian’s revelations had appeared “chaotic” at times, with a stream of supermarket audits and “100% concentration” on cleaning and “getting everything clean and done right”.
Following a surprise 4.30am check shortly after the first reports, during which workers were told a number of failings had been found, Tesco is understood to have returned to the Welsh plant last week for follow-up inspections. Marks & Spencer has also audited but found no breaches, and Sainsbury’s audited Scunthorpe and suggested “improvements”.
At crisis meetings at Llangefni after the original Tesco visit, senior management told staff of measures being taken to clean up the factory and change the way it had been working, according to sources.
They said these included bringing in extra cleaners, slowing production lines; ensuring production stopped more promptly at night so there was sufficient time for cleaning, and stopping slaughter when breakdowns occurred.
“Heifer whines could be human cries
Closer comes the screaming knife
This beautiful creature must die
This beautiful creature must die
A death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder
And the flesh you so fancifully fry
Is not succulent, tasty or kind
Its death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder
And the calf that you carve with a smile
And the turkey you festively slice
Do you know how animals die ?
Kitchen aromas aren’t very homely
Its not comforting, cheery or kind
Its sizzling blood and the unholy stench
Its not natural, normal or kind
The flesh you so fancifully fry
The meat in your mouth
As you savour the flavour
No, no, no, its murder
No, no, no, its murder
Oh … and who hears when animals cry ?”
Gentically modified plants which contain health boosting Omega-3 have been created by British scientists and will be harvested with weeks
The first genetically modified crops, enriched with nutrients to improve health, will be harvested within weeks following a landmark field trial in Britain.
In a major step towards GM food, a crop of camelina (false flax) has been spliced with genes which make Omega-3 so that its seeds will produce an oil rich in fatty acid normally only found in fish.
It is the first example of a new generation of so-called ‘nutraceuticals’ – plants whose genetic structure has been altered to introduce health-boosting properties.
If future trials are successful, the plant oil will initially be fed to farmed fish, such as salmon, to boost their Omega-3 content and make food healthier for shoppers.
But it could also be added to oils, used in spreads and yoghurts, or taken as a supplement.
“It is only a small trial but it’s a major step forward,” said Professor Jonathan Napier at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire where the crop has been growing for the past three months.
“Fish get fish oil from their diet when they swim in the sea but when you put them in a cage they can’t do that and you have to feed them smaller fish, otherwise fish would have no more Omega-3 in them than chicken.
“The problem is that there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea. One million tons of fish oil is removed from the seas every year and most of that goes into fish farming through fishmeal. It’s unsustainable.
“So this would eventually be used to make farmed fish healthier. But it could also provide direct nutrition to people, by being included in other foods, such as margarine or yoghurt.”
Omega-3 fatty acids have been widely linked to health benefits, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, cancers and neuro-degenerative diseases.
Although it is often described as fish oil, Omega-3 is in fact made by microscopic marine algae that are eaten or absorbed by fish.
Farmed fish grown in cages are unable to absorb sufficient Omega-3 in their diets so they have to be fed on smaller fish.
The Rothamsted Research scientists have copied and synthesised the genes from the algae and then spliced them into a plant called ‘Camelina sativa’ which is widely grown for its seed oil.
The crop has been planted in the Hertfordshire commuter town of Harpenden, just 30 minutes by train from Central London.
The site is a mix of high security and informality. Two perimeter fences, each 8ft high surround the crop, which is guarded by CCTV, security staff and Alsatians. While the plants were flowering in July, the crop was completely covered to deter insects and avoid cross-pollination.
However, locals are invited to roam on the nearby footpaths and encouraged to quiz the researchers about their experiments.
Unlike previous trials, where protesters scaled the fences and organised demonstrations outside Rothamsted, the trial has proceeded without problems.
“It does sort of look like Guantanamo,” Professor Napier admits, “But people here don’t view us as some shady government research institution. The fences are mainly there to preserve the experiment. We haven’t had problems with protesters or campaigners
“I think consumers find it easier to swallow when they know you are engineering a plant for health benefits rather than to repel insects.”
GM crops are already widely used in the US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and India. Around 85 per cent of all corn crops in the US are now GM.
However, anti-GM critics claim that Omega-3 fish oils are implicated in the rise of prostate cancer, and it is not clear whether GM-derived fish oils will be safe for human or animal consumption.
Liz O’Neill, director of GM Freeze, said: “The idea of crops which are engineered to be healthier is very seductive and appears a laudable idea, but there are still big questions to answer and we still don’t know the risks.
“Fish farming is already an unsustainable industry so to use GM to prop it up seems to be a flawed idea.
“These plants have been out in the open, and once things are out in the open you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. There is now way they could have stopped slugs and snails getting in and spreading the seeds. The hazards are enormous.”
The process of making Omega-3 is so complex that scientists have had to tweak seven genes in the plant.
“This is most sophisticated GM experiment anywhere in the world,” added Professor Napier.
The crop, which looks like a mustard plant, will be harvested by the end of August when the seeds will be removed from the pods. The oil will then be extracted to find out if it does contain Omega-3 and to check that it is in sufficient quantities to be worthwhile. The team are hoping to publish the results by the end of the year.
“This is a taxpayer funded study so it is important that taxpayers know what we are up to,” added Prof Napier.
A second trial, double in size is scheduled to take place next year and, if successful, the plants could be grown on a commercial scale.
It is the first crop to be planted and harvested since a wide-ranging report, commissioned by the government, gave the green light to GM in March.
Sir Mark Walport, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor recommended that Britain should begin production after finding GM crops were not only safe, but were likely to be more nutritious than current crops.
The project is taxpayer-funded through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Dr Paul Burrows, Executive Director, Corporate Policy and Strategy, said: “The BBSRC camelina project at Rothamsted Research is an example of plant technology being used to address a real world problem where there are currently no sustainable solutions.
“To get the project to this stage has required years of work in lab conditions but it is only when scientists can undertake studies in the field that we can see if the approach would work in real life farm applications.
Source – The Telegraph