Almost 1800 kgs of food and liquids destroyed in August
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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 regular review statement.
The following is a summary of the report for August hereunder:
o 471 improvement notices were issued;
o 4 undertakings were issued;
o 1796kg of foodstuffs, 984lts of drinks and 1122 pieces of plastic kitchenware were destroyed;
o 8 Legionella audits carried out;
o 14 swimming pools were audited during 4 audits;
o 1 school inspected;
o 12 abatement notices issued;
o 39 consignments of imported food were inspected;
o 1864 notifications of foodstuffs, 188 import declarations of foodstuffs and 485 notification/import declarations of food supplements were received;
o 1282 personal parcels checked of which 7 were rejected;
o 13 Ship Sanitation certificates were issued;
o 140 applications were processed;
o 915 control cards for narcotics and psychotropic substances were issued;
o 12 illegal tobacco related adverts and 3 illegal tattoo adverts were removed;
o 882 samples were elevated and analysed;
o No products were recalled;
o 11 citations issued/processed;
o 713 complaints were lodged with the Health Inspectorate.
o 203 inspections in food premises in connection with smoking in public places were made. 2 persons are being charged.
Improvement Notices Issued to Food Business Operators Four hundred and seventy one improvement notices in terms of article 33 of the Food Safety Act were issued to food business operators by the Health Inspectorate Services. During this period 132 improvement notices were also issued to open market stalls.
An improvement 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 in order to rectify these deficiencies. Though the seriousness of deficiencies might vary, legal action is initiated when major deficiencies are noted.
2 HACCP audits were carried out. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point is a Food Safety Management System which is obligatory in those food businesses providing high risk foods.
4 undertakings were entered into by the Health Inspectorate, and concerned several food and environmental health related issues.
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
The amount of foodstuffs destroyed by the Health Inspectorate was 1796.47kgs of solids and 984lts of liquids
The foodstuffs included:
Meat and poultry products – 125.87kgs
Bread – 9kgs
Cheeselets – 6.6kgs
Cheesecakes – 9kgs
Sultanas – 1646kgs
Ice Tea – 984lts
1122 pieces of plastic kitchenware were also destroyed during this month.
Legionella Audits and Pool Inspections
Eight 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.
Fourteen swimming pools were inspected during four audits carried out by the Health Inspectorate to verify compliance with Swimming Pools Regulations, 2005 (L.N. 129 of 2005). 7 new pools were 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
1 school was 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.
12 abatement notices were issued by the Health Inspectorate in terms of the Public Health Act in view of inspections and audits carried out in the previous days.
Thirty nine consignments of food imported/traded into Malta were also inspected by Environmental Health Officers attached with the Port Health Services within this Directorate.
Consignments Documentary checks
1864 notifications of foodstuffs, 188 import declarations of foodstuffs and 485 requests for importation of food supplements were submitted to the Port Health Services.
1282 personal consignments were also screened by the Port Health Services, of which 7 were rejected.
Ship Sanitation Certificates
Thirteen Ship Sanitation Certificates were issued by the Port Health Services. These inspections are carried out in terms of the International Health Regulations of 2005 and involve the assessment of the general hygienic conditions and control measures undertaken on ships. A Ship Sanitation Certificate needs to be renewed every 6 months at an authorised port; Malta being an authorised port.
Applications and Consultations
The Health Inspectorate received 140 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.
Control Cards for Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances
915 control cards for narcotic and psychotropic substances (332 males and 583 females) were issued by the Drug Control Unit, which is another unit falling under the Health Inspectorate Services. 156 of these cards were new applications.
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.
12 adverts involving Tobacco products in breach of Tobacco (Smoking Control) Act was noticed and the respective advertiser was instructed to remove such advert – something which was actually complied with.
3 adverts of tattoo equipment were also noted to be in contravention of the Control of Tattooing Act.
534 samples were elevated by the Health Inspectorate and submitted to the Public Health Laboratory for analysis and/or examination for several parameters.
Bathing Water Monitoring Programme
During the month of August, 348 samples of sea water were collected and submitted to the Public Health Laboratory to be analysed for microbiological parameters as stipulated by EU Directive 2006/7/EC.
The bathing water monitoring programme is carried out in accordance with the provisions of said EU Directive. The official bathing season started on the 13th May 2013 and will last till the 20th October 2013. Sampling is carried out from 87 official bathing sites throughout the Maltese islands.
Up to the 16th week of the monitoring programme the 87 sites have been classified as follows: 87 sites as Excellent Quality, no sites as Good, Sufficient or Poor Quality.
Eleven contraventions were issued / processed by the Health Inspectorate, seven of which were related to food safety issues: One person responsible of a food outlet was charged for not having traceable system and providing misleading information on a food label.
Two persons responsible for different food outlets were charged separately providing misleading information on a food label. One person was charged for not abiding to an abatement notice issued on 25th June 2013.
One person was charged for keeping a food outlet not according to the license, for keeping food (luncheon meat, ham, mortadella and ricotta) at a risk of contamination, for not providing an adequate label on a food product (frozen vegetables) and not having a traceable system.
One person was charged for keeping a food outlet not according to the licence and for keeping food at risk of contamination. One person was charged for offering for sale food with misleading labelling
Four were environmental health related:
Two persons were charged separately for allowing smoking inside two separate public places.
One person for keeping drains in a bad state of repair.
One person for keeping drains in a bad state of repair and for obstructing the EHO during his duties.
Emergency Control Orders
One emergency control order was issued against one person.
Emergency Prohibition Order
Pizza All in One of Triq l-Isqof, Msida was closed down by the Health Authority during August.
713 complaints were lodged with the Directorate which were categorised in one or more category, as follows:
o Food related complaints
119 complaints were related to food. The most common type of food related complaints were: improper labelling (32 complaints), hygiene of food premises (19 complaints), risk of contamination and bad storage of food (17 complaints each category).
o Other Environmental Health related complaints Another 630 complaints were environmental health related. The most common complaints were: pest infestations (193 complaints), infiltrations (112 complaints), accumulation of refuse (59 complaints), discharge of foul water (44 complaints) and foul smells (41 complaints).
Note: The number of complaints and the number of categories do not tally, since one complaint received may encompass one or more categories.
203 inspections were carried out in food premises in connection with tobacco surveillance. 2 persons who were found smoking or allowed smoking within food premises are being charged.
The August focus report was titled ‘A focus on Food Labelling’. This will be uploaded on the EHD’s website at URL: https://ehealth.gov.mt/HealthPortal/public_health/environmental-health/publications/publications.aspx.
The Environmental Health Directorate takes this opportunity to remind the public that it can contact the Health Inspectorate Services between 08:000am and 3:00pm on telephone number 21337333, by calling personally at its offices at Continental Business Centre, Old Railway Track, Santa Venera 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-health/department_for_env_health.aspx or on its facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Environmental-Health-Directorate-Malta/145027878928626