Owner of Munxar garage was manufacturing meat products
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The Environmental Health Directorate within the Superintendence of Public Health is making every effort to keep its contact with the public through a monthly press statement. The following is a summary of actions taken during March, 2012.
The following is a summary of the report hereunder:
o €3,071 total fines were imposed by the Law courts in the past three months;
o 702 improvement notices were issued during last month;
o 2 HACCP audits performed;
o 15 undertakings were issued;
o 2,871kg of foodstuffs were destroyed;
o 9 Legionella audits carried out;
o 16 swimming pools were audited during 6 audits;
o 2 pools were registered in March;
o 35 schools inspected;
o 8 abatement notices issued;
o 52 food consignments imported were inspected;
o 2 consignment of tattoo equipment was also withheld;
o 2288 notification for importing/trading food into Malta;
o 25 Ship Sanitation certificates issued;
o 107 applications were processed;
o 2793 control cards for narcotics and psychotropic substances were issued;
o 394 samples were elevated and analysed;
o 11 citations issued/processed;
o 5 operators were instructed to stop an activity; and
o 448 complaints lodged with the Health Inspectorate.
IMPROVEMENT NOTICES ISSUED TO FOOD BUSINESS OPERATORS
Seven hundred and two improvement notices in terms of article 33 of the Food Safety Act have been issued to food business operators by the Health Inspectorate Services. This is an increase of 102 inspections when compared to last month.
This notice is sent to all food business operators following an unannounced inspection by Environmental Health Officers within their establishment. The intention of this notice is to inform food operators about deficiencies noted in their establishments while the operator is given a specific deadline by when the deficiencies need to be remedied. Though the seriousness of deficiencies might vary, legal action is initiated when major deficiencies are noted.
Two HACCP audits were carried out during March. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point is a Food Safety Management System which is obligatory in all food businesses.
During March, fifteen undertakings were entered into by the Health Inspectorate. Thirteen were food related and concerned hygiene of food premises, HACCP, training of food handlers, and on improperly labelled food.
Two undertakings were entered into with operators due to environmental health issues in particular regarding issues related to Legionella control and pool safety.
Undertakings are legal agreements between the operators and the Health Authority specifying deadlines by which deficiencies in their premises should be remedied in compliance with standing legislation. Failure to abide with the agreed deadlines results in Court proceedings being initiated.
DESTRUCTION OF FOOD
In March, around 2,871.04kg of different foodstuffs were destroyed by the Health Inspectorate, ranging from:
• 2,640kg of rice due to possibility of foreign objects;
• 50.4kg of expired foodstuffs;
• 83kg of meat products which were produced without any approval;
• 70kg various pre-packed foodstuffs due to risk of contamination;
• 24kg of meat and 3.65 kg of eggs due to lack of traceability;
Throughout last month, no food products were implicated in withdrawals/warnings issued by this Directorate.
LEGIONELLA AUDITS AND POOL INSPECTIONS
Nine audits at Hotels, and other similar premises to ascertain compliance with Control of Legionella Regulations, 2006 (L.N. 5 of 2006) and the Registration of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations, 2006 (L.N. 6 of 2006) were performed by the Health Inspectorate during last month.
During the same month, sixteen swimming pools were inspected during six audits carried out by the Health Inspectorate to verify compliance with Swimming Pools Regulations, 2005 (L.N. 129 of 2005). Two pools were also registered with the Health Authority during this month. This regulation specifies that all swimming pools with the exception of those situated at a single family residence need to register with this Directorate. A list of registered pools can be found in the Directorate’s website mentioned below.
INSPECTIONS OF SCHOOLS
During March, thirty five schools were inspected to ensure compliance with general hygiene requirements. Such inspections are carried out in private, government or church owned schools and whether, primary, secondary, tertiary or language or special schools.
Eight abatement notices were issued during this month by the Health Inspectorate in terms of the Public Health Act in view of inspections and audits carried out in the previous days.
Fifty-two consignments of food imported/traded into Malta were also inspected during March by Environmental Health Officers attached with the Port Health Services within this Directorate. One consignment consisting of 50 cases of Wurstel was returned to supplier in Italy as these were not stored in adequate temperature.
Two consignments of tattoo equipment were also withheld by the Port Health Services, one of which is depicted below:
CONSIGNMENTS DOCUMENTARY CHECKS 2,288 requests for importation/trading of foodstuffs were submitted to the Port Health Services as required by Trading Regulations of 2004 (Legal Notice 315 of 2004 which can be downloaded from http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lom&itemid=11120&l=1 ).
This is an increase of over 559 notifications from the previous month and 829 over the same month of last year.
All traders of food including food contact materials and food supplements are reminded to notify the Port Health Services, 48hours in advance as explained in Press Release 1531 issued on 13th August, 2011 (URL: http://www.doi.gov.mt/EN/press_releases/2011/08/pr1531.pdf ).
SHIP SANITATION CERTIFICATES
During March, twenty five Ship Sanitation Certificates were issued by the Port Health Services.
Such inspections are carried out in terms of the International Health Regulations of 2005 and involves the assessment of the general hygienic conditions and control measures undertaken on ships. Such certificate needs to be renewed every 6 months at an authorised port; Malta being an authorised port.
APPLICATIONS AND CONSULTATIONS
During March, the Health Inspectorate received 107 requests to process applications to operate food and non-food business. Prospective operators who wish to open such businesses are obliged to apply for a permit with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) and then apply for the actual licence with the competent authority such as the Trade Licensing Unit or Malta Tourism Authority. At every stage, this Directorate is consulted in order to verify suitability of proposed premises.
During the same month, Environmental Health Officers deployed with the Food Safety Unit, which is involved in the licensing of food related business carried out a total of 124 visits and two consultations.
CONTROL CARDS FOR NARCOTIC AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES
During March, 2793 control cards for narcotic and psychotropic substances (1000 males and 1793 females) were issued by the Drug Control Unit, which is another unit falling under the Health Inspectorate Services. 153 of these cards were new applicants.
These cards are issued when a medical doctor deems that a person needs to be prescribed a psychotropic drug. An application form is filled in and handed over to the patient which is in turn submitted to the Drug Control Unit, Shop 12, City Gate, Valletta Tel; 21245490.
During March, 394 samples were elevated by the Health Inspectorate and submitted to the Public Health Laboratory for analysis and/or examination for several parameters;
o 223 food samples,
o 65 potable water samples,
o 22 swabs,
o 59 infiltration water samples,
o 12 pool water samples;
o 2 sea water samples;
o 11 other samples.
During this year, the Directorate has launched 18 microbiological sampling programmes and 37 chemical sampling programmes targeting several parameters in numerous categories of foodstuffs such as colours, aflatoxins, GMOs, radionucleides, etc.
During this month, eleven contraventions were issued/processed by the Health Inspectorate, nine of which were related to food safety issues:
• One operator for exposing for sale expired fresh chicken legs and fresh rabbit and for not providing traceability documentation;
• Another operator for exposing for sale expired fresh chicken breast and legs and fresh rabbits, for not providing traceability documentation, for exposing food to risk of contamination and for selling of ham and gammon without proper labelling;
• One operator for failing to register business with Food Safety Commission, failing to provide adequate potable water supply, failing to provide adequate equipment cleaning facilities, exposed food to risk of contamination, selling packed foodstuffs without durability date and which were misleading to the consumers;
• One operator for failing to provide adequate potable water supply, failing to provide adequate equipment cleaning facilities, for failing to register business with Food Safety Commission and exposed food to risk of contamination;
• Three operators for having in possession or produced foodstuffs which contained foreign objects; and
• Two operators for producing meat products without a valid licence from the Superintendent of Public Health
Two contraventions were also issued on environmental health issues, as follows:
• One business for failing to remedy defect in drains; and
• A residence for allowing rain water into the drainage system;
FROM THE LAW COURTS
During the last three months, thirty-two cases (out of 241 cases) were decided by the Magistrate’s Court during 9 Health Sittings held.
From the cases heard in the last quarter, those found guilty were given conditional discharges ranging from 3 months to 36 months and to fines, the total of which amounted to €3,071. The fines were imposed on:
o Pizza Marina, Triq ix-Xatt, Ghajnsielem was fined €500 for not abiding with an undertaking entered into 2011
o A hawker in Vittoriosa was fined €470 for not providing an adequate supply of hot and cold water, hand washing and drying facilities and also for not undergoing food hygiene training in November, 2010;
o Ta Caccu Social Club, Qormi was fined €470 for not abiding with an undertaking entered upon in June, 2011;
o Topaz Hotel, St. Paul’s Bay was fined €470 for not abiding with three undertaking entered into in May, 2011;
o Horse Meat, Paola was fined €470 for not abiding with an undertaking entered upon in March 2011 and for not attending food hygiene training;
o Malata Restaurant, Valletta was fined €466 for not abiding with an undertaking entered into in 2008;
o An owner of an open space in Gozo was fined €175 for keeping an accumulation of dung in 2011;
o A resident of Balzan was fined €50 for obstructing an Environmental Health Officer on the 17th March, 2011;
The following were given conditional discharges for a stipulated period:
• Hawker in Vittoriosa open market for not supplying hot and cold water and for being a relapser in November 2010;
• Black Pearl, Ta’ Xbiex for operating a business in unhygienic conditions, equipment in direct contact with food was not found clean, incomplete HACCP system, irregular drains and cesspit not properly sealed, no hand washing facility in preparation area, improper lighting and ventilation, irregular toilets, and walls not kept in a good state of repair and condition in October, 2011;
• Owner of vehicle registration No: DBC-742 in St. Paul’s Bay for not registering vehicle to be used for transportation of food with the Food Safety Commission, exposing food to risk of contamination, food was kept in temperatures which are a risk to health, food handler not attended food hygiene training, selling rabbits and cheeselets without a proper label, transported food not within the required temperature and obstructed Environmental Health Officers from their duty in October, 2011.
• C & K Ciappara Ltd, Qrendi for having in possession foodstuffs without proper label and for failing to provide traceability documentation back in December, 2010;
• HI Grade Butcher Shop, Qrendi for operating premises not in accordance to licence, exposing food to risk of contamination, frozen turkey drumsticks kept at a temperature of more than -12°C, meat kept at a temperature favourable to the growth of pathogenic micro organisms resulting in a risk to health, no traceability records Maltese sausages and not registered with Food Safety Commission in December 2010;
• Topaz Hotel, St. Paul’s Bay for deficiencies in toilets and anteroom and lack of maintenance of certain equipment in July, 2011;
• A resident in Zabbar for operating a business without proper hygienic arrangements, foodstuffs being kept at ambient temperature, exposing food to risk of contamination, no hand washing and food washing facilities, lack of ventilation, improper drains and food handler failed to attend food hygiene training in September 2011;
• Owner of Toyota JAJ 271 which was delivering foodstuffs in Sliema for exposing foodstuffs to risk of contamination, keeping said food at inappropriate temperatures in July, 2010;
• Doughnut Hawker Vehicle Registration JES 652 at Ta’ Qali Open Market, ,Ta’Qali for not providing a suitable hand washing facility, vehicle not registered with Food Safety Commission, exposing food to risk of contamination and for food handler failed to wear adequate protective clothing in April, 2011
• Owner of garage ‘In-Neqnieq’, in Munxar for manufacturing meat products in unlicensed/unregistered premises back in 2009.
• A resident from B’kara for keeping an illegal tattoo shop and for having in possession tattoo instruments without a valid licence in February, 2011;
• Scotts Supermarket, Burmarrad for exposing for sale frozen chicken drumsticks and oven ready Turkey which were kept at a temperature of more than -12°C, whole chicken which were improperly labelled and premises were not registered with Food Safety Commission in November, 2010;
• Adventure Camping and Leisure Limited, l/o Mellieha for not abiding with an abatement notice carried out on June, 2011
• Tuck Inn Restaurant, St, Paul’s Bay for not abiding with an abatement notice issued in 2007
EMERGENCY CONTROL ORDERS
During March, five emergency control orders were issued; four due to production of meat products without a valid licence from the Superintendent of Public Health and one due to unhygienic conditions and disorganization of premises.
EMERGENCY PROHIBITION ORDERS
During last month, no premises were closed down by the Health Authority due to imminent risk to public health.
In March, 448 complaints were lodged with the Directorate which were categorised in one or more category, as follows:
o Food related complaints
74 complaints were related to food. The most common type of food complaints concerned risk of contamination (13 complaints), unfit food (12 complaints), unhygienic premises (9 complaints) and improper labelling (7 complaints).
o Other Environmental Health related complaints
Another 419 complaints were environmental health related. The most common type concerned presence of pests (114 complaints), infiltrations (77 complaints) and accumulations of refuse (38 complaints).
Note: The number of complaints and the number of categories do not tally, since one complaint received may encompass one or more categories.
The Environmental Health Directorate takes this opportunity to remind the public that it can contact the Health Inspectorate Services between 7:30am and 3:30pm on telephone number 21337333, by calling personally at its offices at 37-39, Rue D’Argens, Msida or by email email@example.com .
For further information, the public is also encouraged to visit the Directorate’s website at URL: https://ehealth.gov.mt/HealthPortal/public_health/environmental-ealth/department_for_env_health.aspx or on its facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Environmental-Health-Directorate-Malta/145027878928626.